Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Song book review

The Song

This is a novel based on the film by Richard Ramsey. Complete with photos from the film, this large paperback book puts on paper the heart-changing story of The Song. 
The SongI have not yet viewed the film, so remember that this review is focusing on the content and quality of the book alone. Before reading this fictional book, I watched the movie trailer. I knew I was in for a hard read. A heart-changing experience. But I went for it and could not put the book down! I read it in one afternoon and upon closing the book, wept. I cried for all the sins mankind is capable of. I cried because as I read the book I felt the emotions, I understood the anger and frustration and temptations. Most of all I marvelled at the healing, at God's mercy. Indeed, His mercies are new every morning! 
   This film and consequently the book are about a young man who is confident that he will not fall into the sins of his father who yielded to temptations and lived with the regret for the rest of his life. Aren't we all so confident, before we actually have to face sin? 
This young man, Jedidiah King desires to follow in his father's legacy of musical talent. Seemingly overnight and definitely aided by his passionate love for Rose, Jed becomes famous. And ironically, the very song that Jed wrote inspired by his whole-hearted love for his bride and which makes him famous, begins to hinder their marriage as the musical career takes precedence in Jed's mind. 
Watch as Jed and Rose's family grows while Jed's musical life flourishes as well. Follow Jed as he encounters and eventually gives into more and more temptation. Feel the heartache and tragedy as Rose and Jed feel their marriage crumbling. 
This is by all means not my favourite topic of film or book, however I think it is crucial for couples to face the possible facts. Marriage is not without its problems. Mankind is not sinless. I think it important for all couples to talk about these things and pray together constantly that their marriage would stay pure. I appreciated how the book made the point that Rose was not entirely without fault herself. In allowing her motherhood to take over her life, she was not always the Rose Jed married. She let herself become consumed with being a good mommy and neglected being a doting wife. 
However, the majority of sin in this book/film is about Jed and it is a hard journey he travels. See what God can do in people's this book/watch the film!

  Before I close, I will add a few personal remarks. I don't love the literary quality of this book. It is like most books inspired by films- not incredibly well-written. That said, it is definitely an easy read which perhaps is good for husbands who are not accustomed to soaking up classics from the 1700s!
Secondly, this book is for adults! Do not let your children read this book or see the movie. I don't know how discreet the movie is since I have never seen it, but the book insinuates a lot. 
Thirdly. I think the author didn't do an exceptional job portraying the joy of God's forgiveness in the book. As I know, movies are very visual and emotional so I'm sure it is presented beautifully in there. But in the book, I think the author did a better job with the tragic moments than the joyful moment of forgiveness at the end. Also, I am slightly confused about when Jed King was saved. I wish the creator of this masterpiece had made the redemption more obvious. The release from the power of sin was evident, but not so much the moment of salvation. 

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Jed King's life has been shaped by the songs and mistakes of his famous father. He wants to sing his own song, but the words and melody are elusive. Haunted by the scars inflicted by his broken family, Jed's dreams of a successful music career seem out of reach . . . until he meets Rose.As romance quickly blooms, Jed pens a new song and suddenly finds himself catapulted into stardom. But with this life of fame comes temptation, the same temptation that lured his father so many years ago.Set in the fertile mid-South, this quest for success leads Jed and Rose on a journey that will force them to deal with the pain of loss, failure, and the desire to be who God created them to be.Lyrical and deeply honest, "The Song" asks the hard questions of love and forgiveness. When even the wisest of men are fools in love, can true love persevere?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The NKJV Note-taker's Bible from Zondervan

The NKJV Note-taker's Bible
Hardcover, published by Zondervan 2014

This hardback Bible is the result of a wonderful idea. 
Presenting plenty of margin space for notes, this Bible is the answer to your note-taking dreams. With the complete original text of the much-loved and accepted New King James version of the Bible, this version from Zondervan doesn't minimize on the importance of the accurate Bible text in order to provide the extra wide margins. Instead, it is the trusted NKJ translation, in a new format! 
The clean white pages with the double column text and space for notes are exciting. I know this Bible will please note-takers. Whether you write in pencil or pen, notes are a wonderful way of chronicling what God has been showing you through His word. 
 I love the fact that this beautiful version is hardback, which will ensure it's maximum quality over years of use. I don't think the dust jacket is a very good idea as it will soon show damage from being used. Nevertheless, this Bible is excellent and will make the perfect gift for anyone young or old! I can imagine that it will not only please diligent note-takers but also inspire more timid Bible readers to perhaps start writing down key points and lessons in the wide blank margins. 
Note: there is also a genuine leather version of this Bible for sale!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my review.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Furry Logic, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Guide to Life's Little Challenges by Jane Seabrook

Furry Logic, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Guide to Life's Little Challenges

Furry Logic, 10th Anniversary Edition

A Guide to Life's Little Challenges

  I had no idea what to expect of this little book when I requested it. For all I knew, it could be entirely filled with drawings of cats. I am no enemy of cats, but books filled primarily with cats and nice quotes aren't my thing. 
 Imagine my delight then, when I opened this darling little smoothly-bound  book and the sweetest little chipmunk greeted me! I was smitten by the adorable drawings which filled this book. This artist must be a kindred spirit because she chose all of my favourite little critters to grace the pages of this inspirational hardback! From owls to irresistible meerkats, wacky great king cranes to chubby woodchucks, this little book of art is one of the best of its kind I've ever seen! Because my family is populated by talented artists, I can be rather critical in my art tastes. But Jane Seabrook's work totally amazes and pleases me. Her creations have wonderful detail and best of all, unique expression! Every animal depicted in this book is fun to look at. The quotes are humorous and well-chosen. This will make a great gift for anyone, young or old! It's a coffee-table style book, in  a small format! Sure to be a fun conversation starter too. 
My only complaint is that the author-illustrator didn't include my favorite animal, the red panda, in this charming book. May I suggest it for your next book, Jane? 

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my hones review.

The adorable and high-profile Furry Logic series celebrates its 10th anniversary with a menagerie of illustrated animals and hilarious sayings about life, love, and everything in between. 

No one understands the ups and downs of life's little challenges better than the frisky critters of Furry Logic. The inspirational and tongue-in-cheek advice from series creator Jane Seabrook and her plucky animal characters will tickle the fancy and the funnybone of readers everywhere. Each intricately illustrated spread features a member of the animal kingdom with a unique take on life, from the adorably grumpy owl who advises "Smile first thing in the morning. Get it over with" to the fluffy hawk who admonishes, "If at first you do succeed, try not to look too astonished." So join the original flock of penguins, bears, frogs, and more in celebrating a decade of wit and wisdom with ten new illustrated spreads for fans looking for fresh inspiration

Church Behind the Wire: A Story of Faith in the Killing Fields by Barnabas Mam

Church Behind the Wire: A Story of Faith in the Killing Fields
Church Behind the Wire: A Story of Faith in the Killing Fields by Barnabas Mam with Kitty Murray

  One cannot survive the genocide of one's own people and not know something is terribly wrong with all of humanity. Barnabas Mam ''Church Behind the Wire pg. 28

  One cannot read this book and be unchanged. Although I have read dozens of books about wars, massacres and genocides, every one I read affects me as if it were the first time I realized how sinful man's heart is. This book is another testimony to God's faithfulness through times where sin is especially rampant. Chapter after chapter, I was overwhelmed by the struggles the author and fellow Cambodians experienced under the terror of the Communist Khmer Rouge regime. Most of all, I was amazed by the faith God granted his people during this horrible time. Although it sounds contradictory, considering what a hard topic this book covered, I loved reading this book. 
  To critique the way the book was presented: I assure you it is not overly graphic. I find that survivors of genocides and such are more discreet in their explanations and descriptions than other authors who have never experienced the heartache. Still, the stories are enough to bring tears. 
   Secondly, I found the format a little confusing since Barnabas Mam goes back and forth in his biography instead of just telling it from ''A-Z''. However, if you pay close attention you will not get lost as I did at one portion. 
   Thirdly, there is a lot of political history in this book which may get tedious for those who, like me, don't know much at all about Asia during those tumultuous years. I encourage you to be patient and read through those portions; you will not be disappointed!

I close with some quotes from the book: 
No political liberator, no cultural Messiah, no social savior can rescue us from the jungle we all live in. 

It is human nature to think we must have deliverance from something, when usually our souls truly need deliverance in that something (author is thinking of situations such as the genocide he lived through). page 30

...context for the believer has another dimension. Christians stand with one foot in this world and one foot in another. And that other world is our real home. Sometimes the contrast between these two worlds is especially jarring. This world is full of hate and revenge and insecurity. That other world is full of love and redemption and stability. This world hurts us. That world saves us. This world makes no sense. That world gives us perspective. But one is no less real than the other.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

More about the book: 
From the oppression and terror of the killing fields in Cambodia, this is the story of how one man's conversion led to a rebirth of faith that brought hope to a nation. Commissioned by Communists to spy on a Christian evangelistic crusade, Barnabas Mam instead discovered Jesus and came to faith in Him. After spending four years in prison camps at the hands of the Khmer Rouge Barnabas emerged as one of only 200 surviving Christians in all of Cambodia. God raised him up to became the foremost evangelist and church planter in a land broken by genocide. An inspiring story on a personal, church, and national level, this is more than a narrative--it's a blueprint for success for church growth of the most powerful kind.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bitesize Biographies: Samuel Rutherford by Richard M. Hannula

Samuel Rutherford by Richard M. Hannula

   In this concise biography about Samuel Rutherford, author Richard Hannula has done a wonderful job of summarizing the life and works of this great Scottish preacher of the 1600s. Richard Hannula has a rich background of studies  to his name as well as two other literary works. He now serves as principal at the Covenant High School in Washington. Writing a biography on Samuel Rutherford is no easy task; a 'bite-size' one even less of an easy endeavour! But, as one reads this book one gains a great amount of insight for such a small volume into the life and works of this great Presbyterian preacher. The author covers, in an understandable way, the personal history of Rutherford as well as the history of Rutherford's contemporary world. To my pleasure, this book also contains a good deal of Rutherford's theology and quotes. Although I cannot agree with Samuel Rutherford's theology in its entirety, I learned so much from the majority of his quotes in the book. I share a few...

   ''Believe Christ's love more than your own feelings...your Rock does not ebb and flow, though your sea does.......Your heart is not the compass that Christ sails by....
...Woe unto us for these sad divisions that make us lose the fair scent of the Rose of Sharon!

 I love how Samuel Rutherford relied so much on Christ's love! He was all about the love of His Saviour...that is what kept him alive! We need to read more from authors such as he.

   ''His relationship with Christ sustained him: 'My Lord Jesus has fully recompensed my sadness with His joys, my losses with His own presence. I find it a sweet and rich thing to exchange my sorrows with Christ's joys, my afflictions for that sweet peace I have with Him.'''

  As the author pointed out in this small biography, Rutherford was not perfect. He struggled with bluntness for one thing, which is a common thing when one has so much knowledge and experience and those around are blindly heading the wrong way. But he was also incredibly humble and broken over his own sin.

   ''Contempt of the communion of saints hides us from on another an d Christ from us all....
...When the head is filled with topics, and none of the flamings of Christ's love in the heart, how dry are all disputes? Far too often, fervour of dispute in the head weakens love in the heart...''

This biography is the perfect introduction to the life and times of Samuel Rutherford. It is neither prolix or too simple; which enables it to appeal to both history and theology buffs as well as those who know nothing about the Reformation!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

More about Samuel Rutherford;

Samuel Rutherford was 36 years old when he was exiled to Aberdeen, feeling that he was ‘an outcast and withered tree.’ He had served the little church at Anwoth in Galloway faithfully, but in those August days of 1636 he seems to have felt for a while that his useful service was over.
Little could he have known that his exile would end in less than two years when Scotland rose up to resist the king’s domination of the church. He could hardly have imagined that he would serve a key role in reasserting biblical doctrine, worship and government to the Scottish church. He would also play an important part in the Westminster Assembly, defining Christian doctrine for much of the English-speaking world for centuries to come, and nearly two dozen influential books would flow from his pen, winning the admiration of the Reformed churches of Britain and the Continent. He would even have the most prestigious universities in the Netherlands and Scotland clamor to have him fill their chairs of divinity, and as a professor of theology, he would mold the minds of a generation of Scottish pastors and theologians.
Alexander Whyte wrote, “No man of his age in broad Scotland stood higher as a scholar, a theologian, a controversialist, a preacher and a very saint than Samuel Rutherford.”
Nor could Rutherford have envisioned in his wildest dreams that a collection of letters that he sent to friends from his exile in Aberdeen would rank among the most beloved Christian classics, a timeless source of spiritual inspiration to millions of readers.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

My Battle Against Hitler by Dietrich von Hildebrand

9780385347518My Battle Against Hitler by Dietrich von Hildebrand

What makes a man Hitler's biggest enemy? We Christians of today would learn much if we observed the methods of Dietrich Von Hildebrand. This philosopher and theologian knew that to combat an evil belief system, one must destroy the very roots of that system.  With wisdom and fervour, Hildebrand attacked the basis of the Nazi beliefs. 
   This book is divided into two sections. Personally, I found the first a little philosophical for me who doesn't entirely agree with Hildebrand's Catholic faith. The second half is more understandable and applicable. Applicable? you may query. Yes, because our culture today finds itself in a much similar anti-faith situation as pre-World War 2 Germany! Hitler was not only anti-Semetic. He was anti-Christianity as well. He was in league with Satan and blatantly promoted Satanic practices. 
I am passionate about studying history, especially through the eyes of faith, and I appreciated yet another book on this important topic. Although I didn't agree with Hildebrand's Catholic faith, there was much in this book to learn from. Anyone interested in World War 2 history and such will benefit from this autobiography.

From the publisher's site....
His story might well have been lost to us were it not for this memoir he penned in the last decades of his life at the request of his wife, Alice von Hildebrand. In My Battle Against Hitler, covering the years from 1921 to 1938, von Hildebrand tells of the scorn and ridicule he endured for sounding the alarm when many still viewed Hitler as a positive and inevitable force. He expresses the sorrow of having to leave behind his home, friends, and family in Germany to conduct his fight against the Nazis from Austria. He recounts how he defiantly challenged Nazism in the public square, prompting the German ambassador in Vienna to describe him to Hitler as "the architect of the intellectual resistance in Austria." And in the midst of all the danger he faced, he conveys his unwavering trust in God, even during his harrowing escape from Vienna and his desperate flight across Europe, with the Nazis always just one step behind.

Dietrich von Hildebrand belongs to the very earliest anti-Nazi resistance. His public statements led the Nazis to blacklist him already in 1921, long before the horrors of the Third Reich and more than twenty-three years before the famous assassination attempt on Hitler in July 1944. His battle would culminate in the countless articles he published in Vienna, a selection of which are featured in this volume.

"It is an immense privilege," writes editor John Henry Crosby, founder of the Hildebrand Project, "to present to the world the shining witness of one man who risked everything to follow his conscience and stand in defiance of tyranny."

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Daring Heart of David Livingstone book review

   Missionary? Explorer? Scientist?
David Livingstone has been attributed each of these titles. Which most embodies the worth of his life?
   This in-depth biography of David Livingstone's life and adventures will help you understand what the famous Englishman should really be entitled. From the depth and detail of this biography, the reader can safely assume that author Jay Milbrandt has taken great pains to study in depth the life of Mr. Livingstone. The book is well-written: full of details yet not prolix; in depth, but not overwhelming. As you read this book, you will gain an excellent understanding of the life (and death) of David Livingstone. Travel with this great explorer through the wilds of Africa and experience the hardships and strain of that land in that slave trade-torn era. The author reveals the full character of Livingstone, including his faults and weaknesses. But what shines out most of all is this man's undying faith in his Lord, Jesus Christ! Read this book and be touched.
   I am passionate about studying history, and I love reading biographies. Therefore, this book was an easy read for me! However, although it isn't necessarily prolix it is so in-depth that some reader may find this a more difficult read. Especially so if you are not familiar with the characters in the book or the places in 19th-century Africa!
Once you finish this book, you will know whether or not this man is best described as: Missionary, Scientist or Explorer!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review

About the Author
Jay Milbrandt is a professor at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a Senior Fellow in Global Justice with the Nootbaar Institute at Pepperdine University School of Law where he formerly directed the Global Justice Program. He travels throughout the world as a human rights lawyer, manages global initiatives in Africa and Southeast Asia, and consults with organizations engaged in human rights and legal development efforts.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Robertson Family Christmas book review

A Robertson Family ChristmasA Robertson Family Christmas
by Kay Robertson (Author), Travis Thrasher (Contributor)

When I requested this book, it was mostly out of curiosity. I had heard much about the famous Robertson family and was rather intrigued by their unusual personalities. I had also heard much about their stand for Christian faith, and admired them for that. 
I requested this book in the hopes of learning a bit more about the Roberstons and their Duck Dynasty! 
  I thought the way Miss Kay Robertson went about writing this look into a Christmas with the Robertson clan unique and humble. I'm sure the Robertsons received a lot of pressure from enthusiastic fans to write about their family life and traditions. Instead of just telling it as a member of the family, Miss Kay took the perspective of a troubled teen, making this short work of fiction a very uplifting and interesting book. The reader not only takes away with him or her a better understanding of a ''Robertson Family Christmas'', but is also touched because of the relatable story featured, the story of one typical young man coming from a torn-apart family who gets to experience first-hand what the love and joy of a Christian family looks and feels like!
Follow along as Hunter Clarke gets nominated against his will to join the Robertson family for the Christmas week! Will their love and Christian values finally break through Hunter's recalcitrant heart? Will he wake up out of his soul stupor or will he continue blaming those around him for his less than joyful family situation? 
Read this little book to find out! And be blessed as you glimpse a little of the joy the Robertson family shares on Christmas. 
As for me, you'll never guess what I did as soon as I completed the book! I visited, for the first time, the Robertson family's website.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts are my own.