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Friday, December 13, 2013

The Wall Around Your Heart review

The Wall Around Your Heart Review:
Family members hurt us. Friends betray us. Fellow Christians deceive us. But Jesus provides a path through the pain—the Lord’s Prayer.

In The Wall Around Your Heart, Mary DeMuth shows you that you can reach wholeness and healing in the aftermath of painful relationships by following the road map of the Lord’s Prayer. You’ll walk through story after story of hurt people who are led through biblical truth into amazing, life-sustaining, joyful growth.

Life is hard. People can be mean and petty and awful. But they can also be amazing and beautiful and sacrificial. God is good. He is faithful. You can trust him with your relationships. “He’ll send people to call out what is hard in your heart,” Mary shares. “And that’s a gift to you.”

Allow God to access the wall around your heart. Dare to say, “Tear down the bricks, Lord, whatever it takes.” Pray first. Ask for bravery—for yourself and for others. Risk engaging despite your hurt. Seek the shelter of Jesus.

You don’t have to resign yourself to your wounds! You can rise above the pain. You’ll usher in a new life—an openhearted way of relating to others that expands the kingdom of God. In the process, you’ll draw closer to Jesus, be healed, and become an agent of healing to others.

My Review:
If you have been a Christian for any length of time, then you are familiar with the Lord's prayer.  You know, "Our Father, who art in heaven...."  We have read it, recited it, studied it and memorized it.  I wasn't really sure how DeMuth was going to be able to add much more to it.  Then I read the book.

I was captured by the intro and couldn't stop after that.  "Why do we live in the paradox that if we are to love others, we must accept God's love for us?" struck my heart and I knew that this book was going to speak to me.  I wasn't wrong.

DeMuth combines Bible study with current situations and her experiences to create a book that makes you feel like she is your best friend chatting with you.  No condemnation for the parts you fail at, encouragement to not give up, and a sweet honesty that just makes you feel at home.  I especially liked the final chapter (the appendix) titled "Dealing with Wolves".  You know who they are - the christian who is more pharisee than friend.  Her advice is Biblical, God-honoring, and yet helps us to protect ourselves from further hurt.  

I highly recommend this book!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Return to Me Review

Return to Me Review:


After years of watching his children and grandchildren wander from their faith, Iddo's prayers are answered: King Cyrus is allowing God's chosen people to return to Jerusalem. Jubilant, he joyfully prepares for their departure, only to learn that his family, grown comfortable in the pagan culture of Babylon, wants to remain. 

Zechariah, Iddo's oldest grandson, feels torn between his grandfather's ancient beliefs and the comfort and success his father enjoys in Babylon. But he soon begins to hear the voice of God, encouraging him to return to the land given to his forefathers. 

Bringing to life the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Return to Me tells the compelling story of Iddo and Zechariah, the women who love them, and the faithful followers who struggle to rebuild their lives in obedience to the God who beckons them home.

My Review:

I'm a sucker for Biblical fiction.  Give me a story set in Bible times that pulls from books of the Bible and I get absorbed.  This book is no different.

Austin is no stranger to Biblical fiction.  She has written the Chronicles of the Kings series which are currently in the top 100 of several categories on Amazon as I type despite having been released as long as 8 years ago.  Still, I haven't read those, so I didn't know what to expect here.  Fortunately I wasn't disappointed.

Austin has brought the Bible to life.  What can so easily be glossed over when read in Scripture becomes heart wrenching when you get to KNOW the people.  For example, Ezra 1:5 tells us that, "Then the family leaders of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and Levites got ready to go to Jerusalem—everyone God had caused to want to go to Jerusalem to build the Temple of the Lord."  Upon the first reading you don't really think about the part I italicized.  But not everyone went.  That means some left family members behind when they began their journey.  Mothers may have left grown children and grandchildren, as Iddo and his wife did.  How hard that must have been, how bittersweet.  Austin pulls those details out. 

She helps us to see the truth of what life may have been like when this rag tag band of people came upon the destruction of the temple.  How their new neighbors may have reacted upon seeing them.  But the book goes deeper than the general.  We see, meet, and grow to love the individual characters.  We understand how Zechariah may feel torn between obeying God and leaving his parents.  The struggle of loving someone who doesn't love God.  Questioning if what he thought he heard from God was really from God.  

Is this book worth reading? YES!  I look forward to the next in this new series, to discovering what Austin will tackle, renewing friendships with these characters, and meeting any new ones.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Jude, A Novel review

Jude: A Novel review:


Jude Asher first called on outside forces to change his destiny as a child. Now a wealthy entrepreneur with his star soaring, he's prepared to make his most daring bet ever to reach the pinnacle of earthly power. Jude's twin brother, Thomas, has chosen a different path as a reporter for The New York Times. As much as he's tried to cut himself off from his brother's trajectory, he finds himself drawn back in ... and troubled by the secret that only he knows.

Surrounded by principalities and powers, each brother must choose their own path—for good or for evil.

My Review:

This book has an interesting concept.  Twins, one chooses darkness and quickly rises to power as a result.  The other chooses.....nothing, not darkness or light, and yet he is affected by his brothers choices.

This has the feeling of an end times novel, as if we are witnessing the rise of the beast.  However Nesbit seems to be writing a series and the ending of this installment leaves a LOT of questions and very few resolutions.  I have to admit that I am not a fan of books like this.  When I read a book I want closure, not an intro to another.  So this was a huge drawback for me.

The story line has promise though and I found Nesbit's writing comfortable and entertaining.  When the inevitable second in the series is published (release as yet unknown) I am likely to purchase just to satisfy my curiosity.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Seeker of Stars review

Seeker of Stars: A Novel Review:

Book Description:

As a boy, Melchior is fascinated by stars but has rigid obligations to apprentice with his rug-making father. When his life is radically changed, he is propelled onto a new path full of danger and glory in pursuit of a special star. The journey leads Melchior to reflect on life and death, dreams and duty, and to find unusual reconciliation within his family and with the God he never knew he sought. Destined to become a classic, Seeker of Stars offers a fresh retelling of the story of the magi, and will appeal to people of all ages and faiths.

Book Review:

First, I purchased this one.  Yep, it intrigued me that much.  At only about 140 pages it is a quick read, but that doesn't mean shallow.  While there isn't enough time for deep backgrounds, or great character growth, there is enough time to get drawn in, and drawn in I was.

In the Nativity story we tend to focus (rightly so) on Jesus and his immediate family.  Fish points us towards the Magi, though, and the story of how one might have been affected as a result of his journey to bring gifts to the King.  As I have stated in previous reviews, I am a sucker for Biblical fiction and this is no exception.  What is different is that there is little mention of the magi in the Bible.  They are a footnote, a reminder of those who had been looking for a sign.  Fish breathes life into them, and as a result the story of Jesus and the events surrounding his early years have more depth.  

Melchior reminds us that the people mentioned in the Bible were real,  with a life beyond what is recorded.  They had hopes and dreams.  They loved.  They struggled.  They fought and reconciled.  And above all they were forever changed when they came face to face with the King.   

Encouragement for Today review

Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living review:

I love the Proverbs 31 team and I have been receiving their daily devo's for years now.  When I was given the opportunity to review this book I just knew I had to have it!

Filled with 100 devotions such as "Jesus Loves those in Messy Marriages", and "How to Let Peace Rule", and "When You Feel Like you're Not Enough" you are sure to find a devotion that feels like it was written just for you.  And with contributers such as Glynnis Whitwer (author of I Used to Be So Organized: Help for Reclaiming Order and Peace), Lynn Cowell (author of His Revolutionary Love ), T. Suzanne Eller (author of The Unburdened Heart), Tracie Miles (author of Stressed-Less Living), Renee Swope (author of A Confident Heart), Lysa TerKeurst and more you just KNOW that the writing is going to touch you and be meaningful.

Many (if not all - I didn't check ALL of them!) have not been published through the P31 daily devo's - meaning if you get the daily devo's this won't be the same thing all over again.  Which is good because while I don't want to have to search back through internet archives for something, I also don't want to pay money for something I have already read.  

I especially like the "Remember", "Reflect", "Respond", and "Power Verses" at the end of each devo.  They help you dig a little deeper and bring it to a personal level.  These are great for journaling if you are into that.

So, if you are looking for an awesome women's devotional give this one a try!