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Very Interesting Period Detective Novel…

A Review of Direct Hit: The Blitz Detective by Mike Hollow
What was it like to live in England during World War II? I have no idea. What was it like to be a police detective in England during the worst days of World War II? Again, no clue. But this is where author Mike Hollow takes his readers. If you think solving murders is tough today, try doing it without forensics, computers, and with the daily threat of falling bombs. This is the job given to Detective John Jago. The novel really is fascinating, written during a period of world history that most Americans cannot relate to. We have never faced nightly air raids. Hollow takes the reader right into that world and does a nice job of moving along a murder mystery while also keeping the historical setting intact. John Jago is a likeable and believable character. He lived through the misery of World War I, so he carries his own share of challenges, but while a little flawed, he does his job with integrity and tenacity. The storyline moves along well, and the mystery unravels at a decent pace. Some of the characters do not develop tremendously well, and the period English can be a little tough to follow at times, but overall this is a story worth reading if you enjoy mysteries. A good read with some minor flaws (or room for the author to grow?).
4 out of 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Very Interesting Historical Drama

A review of Day of Atonement by David A. deSilva
Most Christians know very little about the intertestamental period. What happened between Malachi and Matthew? I mean, we know about the Greeks and the Romans, but little more. David deSilva tells one story from that time period in his novel, Day of Atonement. The story gives the history of Jerusalem leading up the Maccabean Revolt. The Jews are under the thumb of the Greeks, and many struggle to see how their national identity and faith tie in with the government that they live under. The Greek culture is appealing, and many young Jews are drawn away from their traditional beliefs. But traditional Jews will not surrender the religious and cultural battle so easily. Tension builds as faith and convictions are tested.
The author clearly understands the time period about which he writes, which contributes a great deal to the historical quality of the book. I know I have been at times left with the impression that Israel was faithful to Yahweh during this time and that all oppression was from the outside. DeSilva does a nice job of showing the complexities of the time. The characters are well developed, and the author does a nice job of bringing out the reprehensible portions of Greek culture in order to set them apart from what God expects from His people without being explicit or tasteless. There are scenes that border on the sensual (though nothing even close to explicit is described), and there are some rather graphic violent moments in the book. For these reasons I would give caution to younger readers. Otherwise, the book gives some good insight into Judaism not too long before Christ would make His appearance.

I would give Day of Atonement four out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Brave Queen Esther

Adventure Bible: Brave Queen Esther, I Can Read level 2 book with pictures by David Miles

We have a new reader in our house, so I love finding books that help him gain confidence in reading and teach him Bible stories at the same time.  If you have seen the Adventure Bible, then you will be familiar with the kind of beautiful illustrations that you will find in this short rendition of the story of Esther.  This is a level 2 I Can746669_1_ftc Read book which, in case you didn’t know, is a “high interest story for developing readers” according to the description on the back of the book.

Is this story 100% accurate and true to the Bible? Well, I would say that is is a condensed version of Esther, for sure. So whereas Esther invites the king to a meal in her quarters twice before making her request to save the Jews, in this book it only occurs once. Overall I found the story to be a wonderful, albeit simplified version of the story of Esther. I am so glad to find Bible stories in the “I Can Read” section, and I hope to see more like these in the future.

5 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Zonderkidz as part of the Booklook blogging program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

New Devotional

Book Review: Heaven, Hell, and Life After Death by Kay Arthur, Bob & Diane Vereen

I have worked through several of these devotionals before and I particularly like the emphasis on studying Scripture.  There is not a lot of commentary from the authors.  Just the Word of God, with some focused questions to answer pertaining to what you have just read.  And if you know anything about Kay Arthur, then you have probably heard about he inductive Bible study methods she employs.  She will have you picking apart each verse by circling, underlining, and doodling in all sorts of ways in the passage you are studying.

 

This short book i425607_1_ftcs broken up into 6 weeks or 6 chapters to study the topic of Heaven, Hell, and Life after Death.  I will list the chapter titles below because that is probably the best way to give a good idea of the content of the book.

1. Why do we have to die?

2. Can we live again after death?

3. What can we know about resurrection?

4. What comes after death for the believer?

5. What comes after death for the unrepentant?

6. What can we know for certain about heaven?

I found this study to be very basic and probably my least favorite of the studies in this series that I have done.  Sometimes there were questions that seemed pointless.  You would need to take this into account when deciding what kind of group would benefit from this study.

 

3 out of 5 stars

 

I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Press as part of the Blogging for books program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

 

An interesting, but somewhat unsatisfying read…

A Review of Detained by Don Brown
I enjoy Don Brown’s work, and he has put together some good books over the last few years. In Detained, Brown begins the Navy JAG Series, and it shows some promise. The first book in the series deals with a couple of Lebanese nationals (a father and son) who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when an American ambassador is killed. Fast forward over a decade, and the son is in the US Navy, and his proud (and pro-American) father is coming to the US for a visit. Before either of them fully understands what is happening, they are both arrested by the TSA, whisked off to Guantanamo Bay, and are accused of perpetrating the attack against the US ambassador years before.

 

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The book has both strengths and weaknesses. As always, Brown writes a good story. The plot moves along, and there are several subplots to keep the reader’s mind active and engaged. The emotional terror of being falsely accused of a crime against the US is brought out, and the faith of the two Lebanese men is strongly portrayed. However, the storyline gets a little farfetched at times, and the treatment of the men by TSA versus CIA, FBI, or military is almost caricatured. Maybe this was intended by the author, but is lends a rather unrealistic atmosphere to parts of the story. Overall, it was a good read, just not one of Brown’s best works.

4 out of 5 stars
I received a free copy of this book from the booklook blogging program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Bible Dominoes

Review: Bible Dominoes game

 

Our children are mostly too young to play any games but occasionally we come across one that works with their short attention span.  Bible dominoes is one of those games.  The 28 thick cardboard type dominoes are not small like dominoes you may be familiar with.  Instead these dominoes are about the size of a cell phone with bright pictures and numbers on them.  The box describes the game as being for 281550oages 3 and up, and the game can be played with 2 to 4 players.

 

A “storybook” is included which is basically a pamphlet with a few short Bible stories in it.  Despite the name, there is not much about this game that will instruct your child about the Bible.  I would call it Bible-themed.  In general, the game is basically ok.

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

I received this game for free from Kregel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Adventure stories

Book Review: Andrea Carter’s Tales from the Circle C Ranch by Susan K. Marlow

 

I have never read any other book featuring Andrea Carter, but apparently I have been missing out. The other books about Andrea make up two sets, Circle C Beginnings and Circle C Adventures. This book attempts to fill in the gaps found in those books. The back of the book states that these short snippets are “inspired by fans’ questions.”

44379x_1_ftcSo you may have already gathered that this book is made up of a bunch of shorter stories or “tales” as suggested by the title. When I was reading this book it basically just struck me as wholesome adventure stories set in California in the 1800’s. I would imagine that this would be appealing to 3rd through 7th graders, particularly girls. And if you have been to the library to look at books for this age range, you may be disappointed with the selection. So I welcome books like this and hope to check out more in this collection about Andrea.

5 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

for those who love classic literature

Book Review – Easter Stories: Classic Tales for the Holy Season by various authors

 

If I had paid closer attention to the word “classic” and not so much to the description that stated it could be read aloud and enjoyed by children of all ages, I may not have been so disappointed with this book.  I enjoy classic literature, but I think many of the stories are too abstract for younger children.

865982The book is quite large at 383 pages, and contains over 25 stories.  Most of the stories are pretty short and I especially liked how some background information was often included.  Authors like C. S. Lewis, Tolstoy, and Oscar Wilde are well-known, but I was unfamiliar with many of the other authors.

 

If you enjoy classic literature and would like some stories to help you reflect on the cross of Christ during the Easter season, then you will probably find a few favorites within this collection.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Plough Publishing as part of a review program by Handlebar in exchange for a fair and honest review.

If you are interested in some more info about this book check here.

Great New Biblical Fiction

Book Review – Esther: Royal Beauty (A Dangerous Beauty Novel Book #1) by Angela Hunt

 

I enjoy reading Biblical fiction, but with a story like Esther I was concerned that it has such a well-known plot that the book would be boring and utterly predictable.  When I saw the cover and read the series name, I thought perhaps the author had just created a story loosely based on the story of Esther found in the Bible.  What I actually found was that the author challenged my preconceived notions about what Esther was like.  And I believe she had legitimate grounds for doi216954_1_ftcng it while staying true to Biblical facts and including her findings from extensive historical research.

 

So even though I knew what was ultimately going to happen in this story, I was intrigued by the journey that Esther followed.  Harbonah, a eunich who is the king’s closest personal slave, also tells his side of the story throughout and adds another dimension to a story that will leave you feeling a range of emotions.

 

Obviously, this is a fiction novel, and some things are made up.  The author includes a note at the end to aid the reader in picking these things out.  Also, given the nature of the story of Esther and her being brought into the king’s harem, this may not be a great book for young, less mature readers.  I think the author has handled this well, but some readers are sure to be upset that their G-rated version of Esther does not hold water.  Xerxes was a typical, pagan ruler who was immoral in his ways with women and did things that were disturbing in the way he ruled.  However there is such beauty in this novel that Angela Hunt brings out because of the spotlight she shines on a faithful God who loves His people who are not always faithful to Him.

 

5 out of 5 stars

 

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Sweet Bedtime Reading

Book Review- Really Woolly: Nighttime Lullabies by Bonnie Rickner Jensen and illustrated by Donna Chapman

 

Having seen the adorable Really Woolly illustrations before, I was pretty excited to check out this book.  The illustrator has truly done a beautiful job and all of the pages of this sturdy board book (with padded cover) are so cute.  When you flip through this book you will typically see a verse (verses are taken from the International Children’s Bible) along with a rhyming poem on the left side and a prayer on the right side.  If you read one of these with022952_1_ftc your toddler aged child every night at bedtime, you would have enough for about 20 days.

 

Your little one is sure to love the little creatures found in this book, and the themes of thankfulness, peace, and lots of references to God’s creation will soothe them as they transition to bed.

 

My only problem with this book is that the word “lullabies” in the title makes me think of music.  I was hoping these would be little songs to sing to our little  ones at night.  We have another board book which has sweet poems that can be sung to the tunes of popular lullabies.  It is a favorite in our house.  So I thought this would be similar, but was somewhat disappointed to find out that was not the case.

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

I received a free copy of this book from Tommy Nelson as part of the Booklook program for bloggers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

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