Saturday, September 29, 2012

“You Were Made For The River…”


You won’t know that you were made for the River until you understand what the River is.  Michael Neale’s allegorical novel shows us, through the life of Gabriel, how we need the River.  The story on its own is enjoyable and easy to read, but it is when you see the allegory taking shape that you find the gem in this book.  Gabriel loves the River because his father has taught him to.  When tragedy strikes, Gabriel is fearful and no longer trusts the river.  The story leads us through Gabriel’s formative years as the River tries to get back into his life in subtle ways.

 I have read several reviews of this book and am having a hard time with how many people just don’t get it.  How many of us have shaken our fist at God and blamed Him for something bad that happened in our lives?  Determined to ignore Him we move on with our lives, and yet, He still makes His presence known to us.  That is what the River does for Gabriel.  I viewed the hawk at the River as a picture of the Holy Spirit, and Tabitha as the person who shows us that God isn’t who we thought He was and shows us we can have a relationship with Christ.  There is quite a bit of this kind of symbolism throughout the story.  I did agree with one reviewer that the religious aspect could be perceived as ambiguous.  I think it would have been helpful for many, apparently, if there was a solid explanation of the spiritual symbolism as an afterward in the book.

Bottom line:  if you are a literal person then you are probably not going to get this story and should probably stay away.  If you enjoy allegories or are imaginative you should like this one.
For more information on this book and to view its trailer--click here-- or on the title above!

I received this book free of charge from Thomas Nelson Publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Determined Wills Collide

Alexandria Featherstone is used to being alone.  Her parents have always been away more than home.  But when they do not return after a year of being gone the King declares them dead and hands guardianship of Alexandria to Gabriel, the Duke of St. Easton.  Alexandra and Gabriel share letters but before they can meet in person she takes off on her own to find her parents, believing they are still alive.

There are parts of this story that are quite unbelievable.  As rich as the Featherstone’s seem to be, why do they leave their daughter practically penniless as they pursue their dream?  I have a certain thought on that and it may be explained in the sequels to this story.  Lady Alex is stubborn and determined.  She uses falsehoods to get what she wants, knowing that it is wrong and not what God would have her do.  Gabriel is the proud Duke of Easton who is brought to his knees by an unexplainable malady.  He has to learn to work with the help of others instead of relying on his own abilities.  His disability appears at the same moment he learns of his new guardianship. 

Even though some bits of the story seem to be a bit preposterous I was hooked quickly.  I really did enjoy the story as a whole and I think leaving the story unfinished, in the traditional sense, was clever.  I will be getting the rest of the series!
For more information and to read an expert of the book or watch the trailer--click here-- or on the title above!

I received this book free of charge from B&H Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

For The Outsider In Each One Of Us

Relentless Pursuit, Ken Gire, 978-0-7642-0883-6

 Relentless Pursuit is Ken Gire’s testimony on how God pursued him and never gave up on him. Interspersed with his personal story are stories of others who have been followed by God and came to know and give their lives to Him.  All this is held together by Francis thompson’s classic poem, The Hound of Heaven. 

The book is alright, I did have a hard time getting into it and sticking with it.  I really don’t know why, the book is good.  Maybe it’s just not for where I am at this point in my life.  It is probably best for those who are new to the faith or are still trying to make up their mind about God and if he truly wants them.

The poem, The Hound of Heaven, is included in its entirety in the Appendix of the book.
For mor information and to read the beginning of the book--click here--or on the title above!

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

“Life Hurricanes”


Life Hurricanes are what author Michael Morris says he tends to write about.  Well, for poor Ella Wallace her hurricane is a Category 5 stalled on top of her without even the hope of a reprieve during the eye of the storm.

Ella’s husband ran out on her and their sons, leaving them to try to pay off the debts he incurred so they don’t lose Ella’s land.  A mysterious cousin with a gift of healing shows up unexpectedly and helps spur Ella to fight for what belongs to her.

The story is engaging and keeps you involved through the end; it is loosely based on an incident from the author’s grandfather’s childhood.  It is a highly descriptive tale of the struggles of one family set against the harshness of a community past its prime and a nation at war.  The characters can seem a bit stereotypical:  the nosey pastor’s wife whose husband seems disconnected from the people he serves, the flamboyant evangelist who is more concerned with finding Eden than following Christ.  You can tell who the “bad guys” are because they are unable to keep their food inside their mouths while they eat.

Ella, the main character, is strong-willed and determined not to lose her land.  Her work ethic is commendable but at the same time her pride is crushing.  She really does not want help from anybody and only accepts Lanier’s offer as a last ditch effort.  Lanier is fighting his own issues from the past, revolving around the death of his wife.  On top of that, he has a gift-or curse-of healing that makes people scared of him.  Working so closely and in such dire circumstances, Lanier and Ella nurse an attraction for each other even though no one knows if Ella’s husband is dead or alive.

This is not typical “Christian Fiction” in the fact that, though struggles abound in the world of Christian Fiction, there is usually some sort of acknowledgement that God has seen the characters through their hard times.  Although Ella begins to bring her family back to church, I was left with the impression that Ella’s determination, spurred on by Lanier’s love and faith in her, is what ultimately saved her situation.  Although her struggles were very real, there was no struggle with God and not much more than a superficial mentioning of His presence, so the conclusion to me was not as satisfying as I would have liked.  However, even though it is a hard story, it is a good read.

A side note:  the storyline about the Garden of Eden being near Apalachicola is based on actual beliefs in the late 1800’s early 1900’s.  Visit the Explore Southern History website and look up The Legend of the Garden of Eden!

For more information about this book and to read the first chapter, go to the author’s or visit Tyndale House Publishers.

I received this book free of charge from the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Quick Tutorial On World Religions

Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day, Garry R.  Morgan, 978-0-7642-1003-7

This is truly a quick and easy book to read and understand.  Garry Morgan has compiled a group of the major world religions, many of their offshoots, along with lessor known religions.  Each is religion’s beliefs are stated matter-of-factly.  Although this is published by a Christian publisher, the purpose of this book is not to compare each religion with Christianity.  The book just gives you the basic facts of each religion without any judgment call.  It lets you learn so you can better understand where friends and neighbors stand in their differing religions.  I was going to skip the first few chapters dealing with Christianity, but I am glad that I didn’t.  I gained some useful information from them.

This is a great source to give you an introduction into world religions and a jumping off place to study further.  For further study I would investigate resources that compare the teachings of Islam, Mormonism, etc., with the Word of God.
For more information and to read an excerpt from this book--click here--or on the title above!

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.