Like a River From Its Course by Kelli Stuart

I seem to have so little time to read recently and it saddens me greatly! However, I am privileges to have the opportunity to invest my time in an amazing book like this. I highly recommend this book to all!

A beautiful, heart wrenching story of loss, love, terrible tragedies and amazing forgiveness from the brave men and women of Ukraine. I did not realize that they “faced more deaths per capita than any other country in World War II due to their high Jewish population (Jews were killed by both the Nazis and the Soviet Red Army), and their rich soil, which particularly interested Hitler.” You can tell that Kelli Stuart lovingly and carefully compiled her 15 years of research in her writing of this book. She focuses on four different individuals that are loosely rooted in the true stories she compiled. I tend to love books and even movies like this one, where stories are honest, broken, and yet redeemed. Yes, I cry with the characters and the pain and loss they endure, but I also feel that after reading a book like Like a River From Its Course I have grown with the characters and learned from them and their experiences.

“In the still, dark moment of this frozen night, I embrace [peace]. I think of our life before the bombs, the river of our days flowing so calmly in a direction that I thought would last forever. In a flash, that river was turned, unexpected and quick, dragging us along this unforeseen path. Like a river from its course, life has swirled away from all I expected or planned. Sluggish and slow, this river carves a new path. There are calmer waters that wait.”

**Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Like a River From its Course cover & more

Advertisements

The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith

Poppy Denby moves to London to take care of her aunt, but soon realizes that her auntThe Jazz Files cover wasn’t being honest. It’s the 1920’s and her aunt, a militant suffragette, felt that Poppy would have more of a chance pursuing a career in London. So, Poppy ends up getting an editor’s assistant job with The Daily Globe. However a reporter’s body falls at her feet on her first day. An accident or could it be murder? He had been looking into some past mysteries involving the suffragettes, and with Poppy’s connections she becomes the ideal person to help finish the story…. However, not everyone wants the past dug up!

Fiona Veitch Smith combines a popular genre and an interesting time period in The Jazz Files, which starts the Poppy Denby Investigates series. The main character is Poppy, a young woman wanting to stretch her wings. She is a bit naive but learns quickly and shows quite a bit of bravery. However, she also desires her choices and possible career to be done in truth. She does some real soul searching in the middle of the book after she was involved in lies and deception.

She is a Christian surrounded by people living in sin, so we’ll see how her faith survives and hopefully grows through the series.

**Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Lion Comic Book Hero Bible by Suiku, Richard Thomas and Jeff Anderson

The summary of The Lion Comic Book Hero Bible is what caught my attention first… “Theunnamed men and women of the Bible are not perfect; but nor were they ordinary. Faith gave some power. To Lead. To Save. To destroy evil. Others succumbed to the darkness. But still more was required. An ultimate hero. To fight the ultimate battle.” What a great and honest summary of the Bible! Also I want my kids to realize they are not perfect, but WITH GOD they are not ordinary either. They can lead and save and destroy evil, because Jesus who fought and won the ultimate battle is their Lord and Savior and Ultimate Hero!

My son found it intriguing. “Read another one, please!” My daughters weren’t too sure, such as “Why did they draw his eyes so scary?” (Don’t you think Pharaoh’s dreams probably scared him?!) They all agreed that the “Hero” names given to some of the men and women in the Bible were great!! Some examples are Abraham as Faithman, Ruth as Fierce Friend, Joseph as Dreamboy, Mary as Wonderful Woman, and Paul as Grace Man.

I’m not sure why they chose to use two different artists – one for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament. Maybe to appeal to more, because the styles are very different. Suiku’s seem to be more of a comic book/superhero style while Thomas’s is more realistic. On a personal note, my family ended up agreeing that they liked the New Testament depictions better.

**Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Ishtar’s Odyssey by Arnold Ytreeide

Keeping our families focused on Christ at Christmas can be challenging inunnamed the busyness and distractions of life, sadly especially during this season. Simple and fun devotions, traditions, and songs are great tools. Now I have discovered Ishtar’s Odyssey which is “a family story for Advent” by Arnold Ytreeide. It is broken up into short chapters that are meant to be read together each day of Advent. Each chapter ends with a small devotion pulling out the spiritual lessons we can learn and how we can apply them as Christ followers.

Ishtar, a 10-year-old Prince of Persia, discovers a star and grudgingly leaves the comforts of his home to follow this star in search of a new king along side his father, a Persian wise man. He learns to not complain and to appreciate the wisdom and experience of those around him. Ishtar faces many adventures and dangers and changes of heart as he throws off the identity of being a spoiled child to confidently accept the role of prince and protector.

In this book Ishtar meets up with Jotham, Bartholomew, and Tabitha – three characters that seem to be more important to the story than I would assume with how little they are included. However, then I noticed that there are three other Advent devotional written by Ytreeide – Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage, and Tabitha’s Travels.

I enjoyed experiencing the story myself, so I definitely look forward to sharing Ishtar’s Odyssey with my family this Christmas! Then perhaps checking out the others by Ytreeide for the next three. 🙂

How does your family stay focused on Christ during Christmas?

**Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Abbot’s Agreement by Mel Starr

The Abbot’s Agreement is from Mel Starr’s Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon. Actually it is the 7th book, which I did not realize. (IThe Abbot’s Agreement book cover try not to choose a book from the middle of a series. I feel that there is normally a sense of loss not starting from the beginning with the characters and seeing them grow through their experiences.) I did not have time to read the first six before 😉 , but the book worked out as my first book from The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton. There was a few small references that I assumed were from Master Hugh’s previous adventures written in the other chronicles.

The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon series is set in medieval England with the main character of Hugh de Singleton, a surgeon and bailiff to Lord Gilbert. The Abbot’s Agreement starts out with Hugh traveling to Oxford to purchase a Bible. He travels with Arthur, a groom in the service of Lord Gilbert. (From my reading of this book I also assume that Arthur has been involved in the other adventures.) The body of a young novice from the nearby Eynsham Abbey is found on their journey and changes Hugh’s plans dramatically. The abbot from the abbey asked Hugh to look in to the crime in exchange for the brothers to make him his Bible. …Is this agreement worth it?!

Mel Starr includes a glossary at the beginning of the book just in case his readers aren’t familiar with the medieval terms. I read through it before I started the novel to give me a little bit of background information. I have not read any books set in the medieval times! However, I found it very tedious to go back and forth while I was reading the story. Therefore I stopped using it for the most part and I was able to follow the story and enjoy it. I did get lost in some of the titles and names.

I enjoyed seeing how Master Hugh investigated a crime in this time period, without all the technology of today. My favorite part of the book was the humorous exchanges between Hugh and Arthur when Arthur “helped” a with a couple guys who weren’t as cooperative!! While it was an interesting and entertaining read, I’m not sure I will check out the beginning of the chronicles. Maybe later…right now I would rather read a book in a setting that is easier for me to step into as a reader.

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

Gospel Formed by J.A. Meddlers

J.A. Meddlers’s subtitle “Living a Grace-Addicted, Truth-Filled, Jesus-Exalting Life” is the reason I picked this book! Yes, I want Gospel Formed book coverthat to describe me…in my everyday life…with my husband, with our kids, as I homeschool, in my interactions with family, friends, strangers…!!

Meddlers recommends to read a chapter a day. I didn’t do that. However, looking back I would echo his suggestion. I used a color for a highlighter (as a mom with 4 kids there is always at least one around!), so my copy of Gospel Formed looks more like a coloring book now! There were so many great reminders and awesome “new-perspective” moments through out the book that challenged and inspired me.

“The Lord tells us, Keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye” (Prov. 7:2). The “apple of your eye” is a love so strong that your heart hones in and will not look away. What twinkles in your eyes? What do you fixate on? Is God’s teaching the apple of your eye? How does the Bible rank in your life?” (pg. 64)

Yet, I want my heart to be effected, not just my head. I plan to go back through this book slower and then I may read it again aloud to the kids. I pray that they also will live a “grace-addicted, truth-filled, jesus-exalting life”!!

The book is broken down into five parts which all point to the Gospel in our our worship, identity, community, and mission. As Meddler explains, “Since the gospel is our message, model, motivation, and means, the gospel informs and shaped our worship, identity, community, and mission.” (pg. 28)

“What is Gospel Identity?” was my favorite section this time through the book. His reminders of our identity, how much we are loved and comforted and condemnation-free, and my role as a soldier really spoke to my heart.

From the chapter “You Are a Gospel Soldier: “Christianity’s aim is for us to experience new life in the kingdom of Christ, glorifying, exalting, and savoring Jesus. God seeks something far higher than good, clean, normal, comfy, morally upstanding people sitting in a church building on Sunday morning, nodding their heads to another great sermon. He is calling us to greatness in the environment of his grace. We are surrounded by grace, and that grace lead us to fight against our sin. Romans 8:13 is a declaration of all-our war on sin: ‘If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the boys, you will live.’” (pg. 129)

I could share so much from this book, but I won’t because you will color your own copy of Gospel Formed by J.A. Meddlers! 😉

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

Making Marion by Beth Moran

Making Marion by Beth Moran

I’m having a hard time writing this review for Making Marion because I had mixed feelings while reading it…Making Marion book cover

On the positive side, the story was much deeper than I thought it would be. In between the cartoon-like cover art and the subtitle “Where’s Robin Hood when you need him?”, I expected it to be warm and fuzzy, filled with lighthearted moments! (Everyone needs a fun, “summer” now and then, right!?) While Making Marion had some of those, but it also was hard, emotional, awkward, and real. (Thank you, Beth Moran!!) It was a little slow getting into, but I ended up really enjoying the story and getting to know the characters. 🙂

On the negative side, I was disappointed about the language. As a woman and mom of 3 girls, I really don’t want to recommend books that throw around the “b-word” (yes, I’m talking about the Old English word with the original meaning of “female dog”). It wasn’t overbearing, but it also wasn’t necessary to an otherwise very good story.

I wouldn’t mind checking out more books from Beth Moran, but I would be very hesitant if she can’t choose better words! 😦

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