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Category Archives: book reviews

The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller – A Review

Chapel Car BrideIt seems fitting that for the first long weekend of the summer – I would finish reading a light, but engaging historical fiction book.   Judith Miller has created an opportunity for the reader to enter into a mining town in West  Virginia in 1913.

As I was reading, I did some research into the Chapel Car program and finding the actual car that Judith has based the book on added to the authenticity of the story line.  As Hope Irvine and her dad set up services in Finch, WV – with the hopes of establishing a significant congregation that will result in a permanent church plant – they encounter a community on edge.

The miners are feeling undervalued by the mine’s owner, who sends his son into town to thwart the talk of a union forming.  When he arrives, he simply wants to find ways to make easy money, and has no real interest in the people who work for the family business.

Hope and one of the miners, Luke Hughes,  strike up a plan to begin to help bring the conditions of the homes up to a livable, safe standard.  He and his sister become an important part of Hope and her father’s lives, and Luke begins to follow a call on his life.

Historical fiction – especially romance – is certainly not my genre of choice, but I enjoyed this book.  It was a great escape, and was refreshingly good a being intentional regarding faith issues.  I would recommend this book as for teen girls, ladies who want to read something that can be read as they catch a few minutes of quite time, and to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction.

Thank you to Graf-Martin Communications and Bethany House in providing the book that allowed me to complete this independent review.

 
 

(re)union by Bruxy Cavey – A review

41UbJk1Y59L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I wasn’t sure what to expect when I agreed to review this book, but because it was by Bruxy – I was intrigued.  I have known about Bruxy for years (he was my husband’s small group leader in Seminary!), and have watched as the church he leads has become a model for church ministry in today’s culture.  So, a new book was an exciting proposition for me to read.

Let me begin by saying this book is like sitting and hearing Bruxy share his heart and passion for reaching people with the Gospel.  He has put on no airs in writing this, and it is truly a reflection of his approach and way of communicating – so refreshing in a world that has people who think they need to sound like a less than authentic self.

Bruxy shares the gospel in 1, then 3 and finally 30 words.  His desire to bring the Gospel down to its basic roots is laudable.  This will be a fantastic resource for people to share with family and friends who are seeking, but don’t want a ton of church-y speak.

In a society where people have been turned off Jesus because of what they see religious people doing to each other (and truly, we need to just stop behaving badly to other Jesus followers!), this book is a refreshing approach.

I do, however, have some points that I disagree with – some theological issues.  But those can be attributed to Bruxy and I coming from very different traditions, and our basic tenants to approaching Scripture vary.  Those differences though, are not enough to dismiss the book at all.  I highly recommend this for those who want to more about the Jesus who came to save the world, and his call to follow him.

I am grateful to Graf-Martin Communications and to Herald Press for giving me the opportunity to independently review this Advance Reader Copy.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2017 in book reviews

 

Hillsong: Let Hope Rise – A Review

lethoperiselogonewIf you are a regular church attendee, and your music has any aspect of contemporary songs in it – you have sung something from Hillsong.  I have long loved their music, and the heart behind the writing of praise songs that are sung the world over.

This movie – really more of a documentary – follows the Hillsong United band through the development of a new album and to aWorship event at the Forum in California.  It was fascinating to watch as the “flashback” scenes culminated in the event.

I loved hearing from Brian Houston, founding pastor when he said that he had wanted to start a church that was music driven and that the music would “connect the soul to heaven”.  He and his wife Bobbie took us back to the place where they first met – with just 100 others.  Since 1983 they have grown from those 100 to 75,000 in 12 countries.

What struck me most as I watched this journey of worship leaders who truly believe that “the songs mean nothing if they aren’t helping people connect to God” as Joel Houston shared, is that they are just real people.  They don’t have huge houses, flashy cars and all that goes with the American experience of celebrity pastors.  The band has a heart to use their talents to lead people in meaningful worship.

The piece has been produced with lyrics on the screen during the worship songs, with the intention of the audience joining in with the music.  Just imagine a theatre full of worshippers singing so loudly that those in the movie complex hear it!  Surely a small taste of heaven…

While there is no question about the centrality of Jesus in the theme of Hillsong’s music, it occurred to me as the movie was coming to its end – that there was not much mention of him outside of the songs.  Brian even said that people should “pour yourself into a local church, and you’ll never be the same”.   Perhaps it is an over reaction on my part, but it’s not enough to be part of a church, it’s the relationship with Jesus that matters and it’s him that makes you not the same.

I loved watching the process of the song writing, even when one song was finished at the very last minute.  To see Joel sitting with his Bible open, pen in hand and journalling his way to the lyrics was lovely.  My very favourite moment though, was the international singing of Mighty to Save.  Just incredible!

Should you have the opportunity to see Hillsong: Let Hope rise – do so.  Better yet, go with your family and/or friends and worship in the theatre right along with the movie.  My thanks to GrafMartin Communications for the opportunity to independently review this movie.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2016 in book reviews, Family ideas

 

The Longing In Me

To say that I am fond of Shelia Walsh – her writing and her speaking and even her tweets, would be an understatement.

Shelia’s story of her life and her honesty about living with Depression and how her faith in Jesus sustains her through it all is incredibly inspirational.  She has honestly shared once again, this time about the longing that is in all of us and how God longs to meet that deepest need in each of us.

You can find more about the book here www.TheLongingInMe.com, and once I’m done the book this weekend – I’ll post a more complete review.

 

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2016 in book reviews

 

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The Crimson Cord, Rahab’s Story – A Review

the crimson cordAs an independent reviewer, I am thankful to Graf-Martin Communications and Revell Books for the opportunity to read this very new telling of a very old story.

Rahab’s story is one that causes most of us to be uncomfortable with.  Let’s face it – she’s not a woman that most moms would hold up as a mirror for their girls to aspire to.  Nor are we content that she is only one of a very few women to be named in the lineage of Christ.  Yet, she is an example of courage, of God’s never ending grace and the beautiful great-great grandma of King David.

Jill Eileen Smith has crafted, very skillfully, a new engaging story of Rahab, and how she came to assist the Hebrew’s fulfill God’s plan for Jericho.  A faithful, yet abused wife finds herself sold into slavery to pay off her husband’s debt.  Her purchaser has many other plans for her.  Tastefully dealing with the degradation that happens with sex slavery – we understand Rahab’s complete lack of faith in herself.

She does though, find a way to assure her safety and her that of her family when the Hebrew’s come to claim the land God has promised.  Then we “watch” as God redeems her past life, and brings her to a place of honour in history.  She is a pre-cursor to the story of the kinsman redeemer named Boaz, and gives us a glimpse that all people are loved so much that God wants them to be part of the family.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read – although I must admit I began quite skeptical at what could be done with a bible character we know relatively little about.  Bravo!  I savoured every page.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in book reviews

 

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Great Bible character + a favourite author = a joy to read.

esther coverEsther, by Angela Hunt, published by Bethany House.

Esther has always been my favourite Bible personality. What young girl doesn’t live a story of the commoner getting to become queen! And then to have her save an entire nation…Disney could learn a thing or two about heroes.

So, imagine my excitement when Angela Hunt, one of my all time favourite authors published this rebelling of Esther’s story. Told with depth of character and setting, we hear this account from the voices of those most intimately involved.

Providing fresh insights (love the reasoning behind Vashti’s refusal to the queen, and her later plots) to the stories behind the story. Hadassah, as she grows into knowing her place in the palace, and learns to love her husband is shown to us as the captivating girl she must have been. Captivating enough to win the King’s heart.

One of only 2 books of Scripture, (the Song of Solomon is the other), Angela has very clearly woven God’s hand through the entire story, and highlights the truth of the faith that Esther was raised to honour.  It is his faith in the One True God that prevents Mordecai from bowing to Hama, and it is the ritual of fasting that Esther and all of the Jewish people in the kingdom engage in preparation for her request to the king.

This was a book to savour, I intentionally took my time in reading the story, not wanting to leave the palace too soon.

I am grateful to Graf-Martin Communications, via the Nuts About Books and Bethany House for providing this opportunity for me to complete an independent review of this book.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in book reviews

 

Like a Flower in Bloom – Book Review

I am not a typical Christian fiction reader.  I am not a fan of the Historical romance, but being a voracious reader, and knowing I was heading away on a beach holiday – I was happy to receive this advanced reading copy compliments of Bethany House Publishing.

On its journey of a story, I was engaged with a young woman I greatly identified with.  Miss Withersby is an independent young woman, who is not entirely thrilled with the expectations and limitations placed on her by Society.  She is passionate about all things Ranunculus, and entirely happy and content to be her father’s assistant – drawing and writing his botany books.

Her father though, becomes convinced that all this must end, as it is time she find herself a husband.  She sets off to do just that, but planning to find someone so unsuitable, her father will never agree.  Under the tutelage of a friend, the two begin their scheme, but when it involved 2 very different men who share our ladies’ interest, things get interesting.

When life shows it has a different agenda, and even though she can’t see it, the very man her father hired to release her from her duties at home, becomes a familiar and somewhat comfortable, thorn in her side.

I found the botany references, and our heroine’s passion to detail very familiar and engaging.  I was pleased that this book didn’t follow the typical formula for romance novels, having a twist at the end that I hadn’t anticipated.  A refreshing find, and enjoyable way to spend a holiday afternoon.

This review is an independent opinion, with the book being provided through Graf-Martin Communications by Bethany House Publishing.

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2015 in book reviews