Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Hidden Flame

by Janette Oke and Davis Bunn

This brilliantly written book puts you on the streets of first century Jerusalem, giving you a front row seat for many of the events recorded in the book of Acts. From the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira to the stoning of Stephen the reader witnesses first-hand moments that shaped the early church through the eyes of Abigail; a young believer and the focus of this story.

It is the second book in the Acts of Faith series, however the authors have done a great job of filling in the necessary background information to make this book easily readable on its own. I have not read the first book, but had no trouble picking up the story line.

Caught between the Jewish leadership and the Roman rulers, the early church is fighting for their survival – even as their numbers grow daily.

Many of the characters are actual historical characters- the apostles, Martha, Rabbi Gamaliel (the Apostle Paul’s teacher – still known as Saul in this book). All of the characters are rich and deep; you will laugh with them, cry with them, and pray with them.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book, however that in no way influenced my opinion of it.

How to Reach Your Full Potential for God

By Charles F Stanley

I have really struggled writing this review. I admit I have very mixed feeling on this book. At first, I really did not like it. It took me a long time to read the book, not because it was difficult to read but because it just didn’t grab me. I really didn’t find myself interested in it at all. I found his writing style to be very basic, almost like it was intended for a junior high Sunday School class. He seems to avoid theological terms at all cost and often over-illustrates his point. One illustration is helpful, more than that is simply annoying.

However, once I finished the book I found it kept coming back to me. I have really been looking at the daily events in my life and thinking “What would God have me do here? How can I use this to glorify God? Am I reaching my full potential in this area of my life?”

After much thought and prayer I’ve realized that if you like self help/motivational books you will probably love this one. I’m someone who prefers to approach these things through biblical exegesis and the teaching of sound doctrine, so to me this book read like a 1980’s self-help book. However, there is value in that.

Bottom line: if you like self help, you will love this book. If you are looking for something deeper, you might find it hard to read, but there is a valuable message for all Christians in this book.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book, however that in no way influenced my opinion of it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sense and Sensibility (Insight Edition)

If you love Jane Austen, you will love this edition of Sense and Sensibility.

I admit I was at first a little skeptical of reading an “insight edition” as often I have found, in the past, insights to be annoying and often detract from the story. That is not the case in this edition of Sense and Sensibility. I found most of the insights to be very helpful and often amusing.

This timeless classic is brought to life in even greater detail through the insights included in this version. It includes many fascinating details from Jane Austen’s own life which help explain her perspective on many different situations. Many of the insights have to do with bringing the rich cultural details out to a generation who may not immediately relate to life and places in the early 1800’s.

For those who have loved (or even hated) the many movies and mini-series’ based on this book, you will find frequent comparisons, applause, and criticisms of the film versions.

The faith that is evident, though not always clearly, is brought out and given Scriptures references for throughout the book. I found these very interesting as I had never thought of Sense and Sensibility as a Christian book before.

This is definitely a book all Jane Austen aficionados will love. If you've never read Jane Austen, I strongly recommend you make this the first one you read.

I must mention that I did receive a complimentary review copy of this book, however that in no way influenced my opinion.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Silent Governess

An absolute masterpiece of historical fiction!

The Silent Governess is a beautifully written tale of mystery, romance, family secrets, friendship and faith set in a nineteenth century manor house.

By chance circumstance Olivia Keene overhears a secret of Lord Bradley. Compelled to take a post in his home, while she hides a secret of her own, she is quickly accepted by the other servants as well as the children.

The characters are deep, rich, and intriguing. The plot is full of unexpected twists and turns that keep you guessing until the very end.

Set in a time where women were ladies, men were gentlemen, and propriety was held in high regard Julie Klassen does a fabulous job of clearly describing the inner working of an English manor house. The intricacies of the relationships between the servant, the governess, and the lords and ladies are brought to light in great detail. Quotes at the beginning of each chapter from writings of the time provide background for each chapter and shed light on what the roles of each character would have been.

If you love historical fiction set in the Regency era, you will love this book.

While I did receive a complimentary review copy of this book, it in no way influenced my opinion of it.