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Monday, April 21, 2014

My Bedtime Story Bible

My Bedtime Story Bible by Jean E. Syswerda


My Bedtime Story Bible focuses not only on biblical characters and stories, but also on the quiet times of those characters before sleep. Parents will enjoy reading My Bedtime Bible Story to their children just before bed. And children will enjoy hearing stories about bible characters and the truths they can learn from them---all in a manner that promotes quiet, settled moments rather than noisy, busy times.

My Review:

If you are looking for a story Bible that accurately relays the story of the Bible, this isn't it.  Not that it is inaccurate, it just doesn't focus on the stories.  Rather it focuses on the characters, such as Daniel, Adam and Eve, Noah, Joshua etc.  21 of the 28 tales are Old Testament with the remaining 7 being New Testament.

Even though the stories each focus on a particular character, it isn't as much about what they did, but about their fictional bedtime routine.  For example, the story on Nehemiah is 3 paragraphs long.  In the first paragraph it tells a party to celebrate the completion of the wall around Jerusalem.  In the second paragraph Nehemiah is looking out his window at night and contemplating the beauty of the wall, the efforts that were made to rebuild it, and that God would bless the people if they obeyed Him.  The final paragraph focuses on Nehemiah getting ready for bed - he was tired, he thanked God for the day and His help, and then goes to sleep.  Each story ends with, "Good night, (the name of the primary person in the story). Good night.  Sleep tight." and a "Tuck In" prayer starter.

It is a sweet introduction to the people in the Bible, and a neat way to help your child connect to and see them as the real people they were.  However, if you are looking for a bedtime story book to read with your child that gives them a clear picture of the story of the Bible, this is not it.  That being said, I still think it would be a great book to add to the shelf for a child, and it definitely opens doors to allow the parent to introduce God's word in a more concrete way.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Killing Jesus Review


It is the most fiercely debated murder of all time. Its symbol is worn by billions of people worldwide. Its spiritual meaning is invoked daily in time-honored rituals. In Killing JesusNew York Times best-selling author Stephen Mansfield masterfully recounts the corrupt trial and grisly execution of Jesus more than two thousand years ago.

Approaching the story at its most human level, Mansfield uses both secular sources and biblical accounts to bring fresh perspective to the human drama, political intrigue, and criminal network behind the killing of the world's most famous man.

My Review:

From the opening chapter the grisly aspects of this tale are apparent.  Pulling almost word for word from the accounts of Josephus and his description of the disease that ended the life of Herod the Great we begin the story appalled.  Fortunately, once you get past the graphic details, the retelling of Jesus last days are detailed, and yet fresh.

I found the subtitle misleading, as most of the Christians I know knew of the "conspiracy" behind the Roman execution.  Perhaps that is not true elsewhere though.  Mansfield follows Jesus from his entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey all the way through his horrific death.  The account is written at a level that even my middle school daughter would be able to understand the political environment and the impact that Jesus' actions had on the environment.  You don't need to be well versed in history, religion, or politics to grasp what is going on.  I like that.  It is a book for the average person.

I also liked that the book sticks to the facts.  There isn't a religious leaning, nor a push for one to come to God, making this an excellent book to share with non-believers.  Think of it as a way to open the door, Mansfield leaves the rest to you.

Something that sets this book apart from other books that rely heavily on other sources is that rather than being constantly interrupted visually by footnotes or citations, Mansfield has opted to write the book as a story and save the credits for the end.  I found that it helped me to stay in the accounting rather than feel as if there were numerous "commercial interruptions".

I found this a good book to read during this, the Passion week, and a great reminder of all that Jesus went through to open the doors to heaven for us.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Queen's Handmaid review

The Queen's Handmaid written by Tracy L. Higley


From the servant halls of Cleopatra’s Egyptian palace to the courts of Herod the Great, Lydia will serve two queens to see prophecy fulfilled.
Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC
Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra's palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm's length. She's been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life.
But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she’s had to family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.
Trapped among the scheming women of Herod’s political family—his sister, his wife, and their mothers—and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah.


Mystery, romance, history - this book has it all!  Higley ties all of the historical aspects together with the fictional character, Lydia, and a secret mission to return the secret scrolls of Daniel in such a way that you can't help but be drawn in.  The fictional and suppositional aspects of the story are woven in so well you can't differentiate them from what is historically accurate in the story line.  
Higley brings Cleopatra, Herod, Mariamme and the political climate to life.  I look forward to reading more of her historical fiction!