Sunday, March 24, 2013

Worrisome Undercurrents

I was excited to get this book from Bethany House to review. The story was a wonderful coming-of-age tale. It was fun to get to watch Errol, the town drunk transform into a hero of the kingdom. I really wanted to give this book more stars, but the undercurrents are so against what I believe that I could not.

Here is a list of worrisome undercurrents in no particular order.

1. There is a new savior/king for each generation.
2. The boundary that keeps evil from invading the land was purchased with the blood of a human not Eleison (who represents Jesus in the story).
3. Aurae (representing the Holy Spirt) is unknowable according to the "church" but certain herbwomen claim to communicate directly with him.
4. Errol's transformation does not come from a relationship with Deas (the God figure in the story)but through facing his past, getting to know himself, and self-discipline.
5. None of the main characters have a personal relationship with Deas or Eleison or Aurae. The main focus of the story is on tradition and ritual.
6. There is a yin/yang element to the story in Errol/Liam (a young man from his village).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Two Great Books

I received two books from Bethany House.  The first one I read was At Every Turn by Anne Mateer.  This was a fun book about a young, impetuous young lady named Alyce Benson.  In some ways, she reminded me of the apostle Peter.  She speaks first and thinks later, but her heart is in the right place.  She is willing to take a risk for the kingdom of God.  She is unconventional. 

The story is a fairly fast-paced plot that revolves around fundraising for missions and car racing in its infancy.  I found both aspects compelling.  I empathized with Alyce's desire to raise money to help missionaries on the Gold Coast of Africa.  It was also interesting to gain insight into the early race tracks and inner workings of the old-fashioned race cars.

I give this book 5 stars. 

The second book was Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden.  This book is a more serious work dealing with the opium trade and use in children's medication in the late 1800's.  The two main characters, Lydia Pallas and Alexander Banbridge, have both led hard lives.  Despite these things, Ms. Camden writes a novel full of hope and overcoming. 

On a side note, Alexander Banbridge's early life is described in the book, The Lady of Bolton Hill, but it is not necessary to read that book to enjoy Against the Tide.  (I did not even know the other book existed until after I finished this one.)

I enjoyed this book because it is a story of tenacity and striving to better the world and oneself.  Both characters are willing to do hard things to acheive a better life for themselves and others.  I greatly admire this quality.  I really felt like I got to know the characters and was better for it.

There is also a love story interwoven throughout.  This aspect was also pleasant while keeping a small level of suspense as to whether it would all work out in the end.

All told, it was a thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking read.  I give it 5 stars as well.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Refuge by Marvelle Zollars

I received this book as a gift from Mrs. Zollars for helping her in a painting class she teaches.  When she gave it to me, I inwardly cringed.  What if I didn't like it?  I didn't want to hurt her feelings.  I decided to read on chapter and see how it went.  As it turns out, I was hooked from the beginning. 

The first thing I loved about this book is the great mix of characters and how the story shows God weaving them together to save the lives of babies at risk of abortion.  The characters range from a business executive to a has been musician to a rebellious socialite to a Native American journalist.  The way they are intertwined seems entirely natural and is wonderfully inspiring. 

The second thing that I really enjoyed was the way Mrs. Zollars tackled the tricky issues like mother's who risk their lives so that their babies can be born and babies born from rape instead of love.  She also looks at homelessness, abused women, and other difficult issues in a realistic and loving way. 

This glorious story is Mrs. Zollars debut novel.  I really hope that she is published again.  I recommend this book very highly.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Constitutional Size Box

I think few Americans have read the Constitution that our elected officials have sworn to uphold. Those of us that have read it rarely stop and think about what it doesn't say. I attended a lecture about overspending in Texas. The speaker, Joann Fleming, said something along the lines of, "We need to squeeze the government back into a Constitution size box." She was speaking of the Texas State Constitution, but it got me thinking about the U. S. Constitution. So I went through and looked at it again. What if we limited the federal government to a Constitution size box? What would that look like? A shockingly different federal government than we have today. Let's take a look.

These are the ONLY matters Congress would deal with. EVERYTHING ELSE would be left to the states as per the 10th Amendment.

National Defense- Congress has the constitutional authority to send Letters of Marque and Reprisal (basically telling foreign intities off), declare war, and punish piracy. Congress has the constitutional authority to maintain an army and a navy. (2011 proposed budget- $738 billion, veterans $112 billion)

Immigration- Congress has the authority to pass laws about who can come into this country from other countries and how aliens can become citizens.

Bankruptcy- Congress has the authority to pass bankruptcy laws for citizens and businesses.

Post offices and roads- Congress has the authority to make sure the mail can get from one place to another throughout the country. (Transportaion in 2011 proposed budget $88 billion)

Patents and copyrights- Congress has the authority to pass laws protecting the intellectual property of citizens and businesses.

Appoint courts- Congress has the authority to decide where courts will be (but they do not appoint judges).

Laws for federal areas- Congress has the authority to make laws for federal areas such as DC, forts, arsenals, and dockyards.

National currency- Congress has the constitutional authority to mint coins for use within the United States.

In order to fulfill these obligations, Congress may lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises. They may also borrow money. (Net interest in 2011 proposed budget- $251 billion)

If Congress concerned itself with only these things, it would shrink our national budget buy about two thirds (or two trillion dollars).

Sunday, August 12, 2012

This book hit the spot!

I recently read Almost Amish by Kathryn Cushman.  I enjoyed this book so much because it dealt with an issue that I find challenging in a charming, non-preachy manner.  The heart of the book is about striving for excellence while not getting caught up having to do it all.  It is about using the gifts God gives us and being OK with saying no to other activities.  This book is about focusing your life on what God wants from you instead of focusing on what the PTA or the soccer club or the church benevolence committee wants from you. 

Not only are the lessons worth learning, but the story is engaging.  The setting is a reality TV show called Almost Amish.  Two sisters-in-law with very different goals and views spend the summer with their kids living a "simple" life in a country house amongst Amish neighbors.  The interactions between the women, kids, and TV show staff are really well done.  The author does a great job of helping you see all the points of view and leading you toward godly thought on some of these tough issues.

I really hope that you will give this book a shot!  It may just change your family for the better. 

Many thanks to the folks at Bethany House for giving me a copy of this book to review.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Mystery with a Romantic Twist

I had a great time reading Love in Disguise by Carol Cox.  It is more a mystery book than a romance novel, but that made it a breath of fresh air in many ways.  The main character, Ellie, is a Pinkerton detective that must use disguises in order to be able to glean the information she needs to find out who has been stealing the silver from the miners in Pickford, AZ.  The mystery is interesting and fairly exciting, but the thing I like most is Ellie herself.  She is resourceful, spunky, and comes to realize that she has a lot to offer the world as just plain Ellie.

The romantic twist to the book is fun too.  I would enjoy reading a second book about Ellie and Steven (one of the miners).

So thanks Bethany House for giving me this book to review.  I really enjoyed it!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Can we really withstand any more "Hope and Change"?

How's that hope and change working out for you?  The Fox video above gives straight statistics about how it is not working for most Americans.  Yet I fear that the promise of more hope and change will people to vote for President Obama again.