Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies Book Review

     When it comes to the realm of biblical studies, students of the Bible are often overwhelmed, both with the sheer volume of information and with all of the unfamiliar terms, concepts, and topics. Like any other field of study, the serious study of the Bible has developed a specialized vocabulary. The key terms in this important field are defined in The Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies. It provides clear, concise, and accurate definitions to help students of the Bible make sense of the specialized language of biblical studies.

REVIEW:  If you want to learn more about the bible but are intimidated with all the resources out there and the sizes of the books available (some of them are HUGE!!!), this might be the book for you.  The authors have defined common, and not so common words, used by Christian theologians, pastors and bible studies leaders.  Scholars of the Old and New Testaments and other men and women who have shaped how we study and interpret scripture are noted along with their contributions to the study and understanding of the bible.  Also included are words not found in the bible but are used to help understand the culture, times and customs of the Old and New Testaments.  It's nice to have something I can throw in a bag with my bible and notebook that can help me in my pursuit of a better understanding of God and His Word.  If you want to expand your knowledge, this would be a great place to start.

This book was provided by Baker Books for review without any compensation.

Tremper Longman, III (PhD, Yale University) is Distinguished Scholar of Biblical Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California.  He has authored or coauthored numerous books, including An Introduction to the Old Testament and How to Read Proverbs.

Mark L Strauss (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is University Professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary.  He is the author of several books, including Distorting Scripture? and Four Portraits, One Jesus.

Friday, April 6, 2018

A Most Noble Heir Book Review

SUMMARY:  Will gaining the world cost him everything he holds most dear?
     When stable hand Nolan Price learns from his dying mother that he is actually the son of the Earl of Stainsby, his plans for a future with kitchen maid Hannah Burnham are shattered.  Once he is officially acknowledged as the earl's heir, Nolan will be forbidden to marry beneath his station.
     Unwilling to give up the girl he loves, he devises a plan to elope - believing once their marriage is sanctioned by God that Lord Stainsby will be forced to accept their union.  However, as Nolan struggles to learn the ways of the aristocracy, he finds himself caught between his dreams for tomorrow and his father's demanding expectations.
     Forces work to keep the couple apart at every turn, and a solution to remain together seems farther and farther away.  With Nolan's new life pulling him irrevocably away from Hannah, it seems only a miracle will bring them back together.

REVIEW:  While reading this book, everything was worked out in my head how things should go, just like Nolan does after he finds out he is the Earl's son.  But, as we both found out, things don't always go as you planned.  I like how the author kept the obvious conclusions from occurring, keeping my interest the whole time.  As different twists and turns came about, it kept me guessing how events would play out in the end.  Nolan and Hannah both grow a lot, not only in their character and together but also their faith, depending on God to see things through.  As relationships get rocky, God gives them the strength to power through their trials to the blessings He has on the other side.  I was pleasantly surprised with Nolan's father Lord Edward and Hannah's aunt Iris and enjoyed them very much.
     If you want a distraction from the everyday, this book is a great one to pick up and read. 

This book was provided by Bethany House and Litfuse Publicity Group 
for review without compensation.

Susan Anne Mason's first historical romance, Irish Meadows, won the Fiction from the Heartland contest sponsored by the Mid-American Romance Authors chapter of RWA.  She lives outside Toronto, Ontario, with her husband, two children and one rather plump cat.  Learn more about Susan and her books at

A Light on the Hill Book Review

Cities of Refuge Series
Book One

SUMMARY:  Though Israel has found relative peace, Moriyah has yet to find her own.  Attempting to avoid the scorn of her community, she's spent the last seven years hiding behind the veil she wears.  Underneath her covering, her face is branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods, a shameful reminder of her past captivity in Jericho and an assurance that no man will ever want to marry her.
     When her father finds a widower who needs a mother for his two sons, her hopes rise.  But when their introduction goes horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee for her life.  Seeking safety at one of the newly established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face and the enemies - and unexpected allies - she will encounter on her way.

REVIEW:  Connilyn Cossette has written another fabulous book, this time regarding the cities of refuge that were set up in Israel.  As with the books in her first series, OUT FROM EGYPT, this one picks up a few years after Wings of the Wind ends.  Moriyah, who had been rescued from captivity in Jericho and branded on her face, hides from the rest of the world behind her veil.  Even though she loves God, she has a hard time loving herself.  As she runs for her life, I love how she finds strength in accepting herself as she is, and with it, becomes a stronger person.  The author does a great job showing how Moriyah begins to see those around her who love and support her no matter what marks she carries . . .  they love her for her.  
     This story still resonates with me, even though I finished it weeks ago, as does all of her books.  Now, like in the other books the author has written, she refers back to characters and events that has happened previously.  So, to get a much better understanding of Moriyah's background and struggles, it is good to read Wings of the Wind.  That being said, I would suggest just getting the three books of the OUT FROM EGYPT series and read them.  I don't think you will be disappointed.  Connilyn Cossette has become one of my favorite authors, and I'm sure she will be one of yours too.

This book was provided by Bethany House for review without compensation.

Connilyn Cossette is the CBA bestselling author of the OUT OF EGYPT series.  Her debut novel, Counted with the Stars, is a Christy Award finalist, INSPY Award finalist, and Christian Retailing's Best Award finalist.  She lives south of Dallas with her husband of twenty years and two awesome kids.  Connect with her at

A Refuge Assured Book Review

SUMMARY:  Fleeing One Revolution to the Aftermath of Another, She Seeks and Dreams of Peace
     Lacemaker Vivienne Rivard never imagined her craft could threaten her life.  Yet in revolutionary France, it is a death sentence when the nobility, and those associated with them, are forced to the guillotine.  Vivienne flees to Philadelphia, but danger lurks in the French Quarater, as revolutionary sympathizers begin to suspect a young boy left in her care might be the Dauphin.  Can the French settlement Asylum offer permanent refuge?
     Militiaman Liam Delaney proudly served in the American Revolution, but now that the new government has imposed an oppressive tax that impacts his family, he barely recognizes the democracy he fought for.  He wants only to cultivate his hard-won farm near Asylum, but he soon finds himself drawn into the escalating tension of the Whiskey Rebellion.  When he meets a beautiful young Frenchwoman recently arrived from Paris, they are drawn together in surprising ways to fight for the peace and safety for which they long.

REVIEW:  Jocelyn Green's latest novel does not disappoint.  As I read, I was caught up in the Vivienne's struggles.  As she fights to stay alive, she desperately desires peace and safety.  I like how she doesn't try to hide and mull over everything lost in France after she arrives in America but, after not being able to make it as a lacemaker, she finds a new trade making breads, pastries and pies for a local pub.  Her tenacity to hang on when the going gets tough helps her and the young boy placed in her care survive when things look bleak.
     Liam Delaney is a strong man who doesn't back down from a challenge.  He stands firm on what he believes is right, even when it is not the popular thing to do.  I like that he is a hard worker and, when faced with losing his farm, does what is necessary to help Vivienne when it's needed.
     If you like reading historical novels, especially ones written around the time of the American Revolution, this is a novel you should check out.  The author does a wonderful job with her storytelling and adventures.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  I look forward to reading more from this author.

This book was provided by Bethany House and the author for review without any compensation.

Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage as the award-winning author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including The Mark of the King and Wedded to War, both Christy Award finalists, and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman.  Jocelyn lives with her husband and two children in Iowa.  Visit her at

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Passionate Hope Book Review

Daughters of the Promised Land
Hannah's Story
Book Four

SUMMARY:  Can one woman's prayers change the world?
     Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, share a deep and abiding love for each other, for their God, and for His tabernacle at Shiloh.  Greatly disturbed by the corruption of the priests, they long for restoration and pray for a deliverer.  But nothing changes as the years pass.  Years that also reveal Hannah to be barren.
     Pressured by his family to take another wife, Elkanah marries Peninnah, who quickly begins to bear children.  Disgraced and taunted by her husband's new wife, Hannah turns again to prayers that seem doomed to go unanswered.  Do her devotions and kindness in the face of Peninnah's cruelty count for nothing?  Will God remain silent and indifferent to her pleas?
     Travel back to the dusty streets of Shiloh with an expert guide as Jill Eileen Smith brings to life a beloved story of hope, patience, and deliverance that shows that even the most broken of relationships can be restored.

REVIEW:  Since Hannah has always been a favorite bible heroine of mine, I was excited to get Jill Eileen Smith's latest novel.  As I turned the pages, I was taken back to the time after the judges when the priests were corrupt and hope seems lost and God distant.  My heart cried with Hannah's struggles of infertility, disappointing her husband, and listening to the taunts of first her in-laws then her sister-wife.  While she puts on a happy face for the world, I could feel Hannah's struggles and the pain of her barrenness.  I like how the author expresses Hannah's turmoil, Peninnah's bitterness and Elkanah's struggle.  She also does a wonderful job showing how the corruption of the priests affects the nation of Israel and the people.  It was interesting to see how Hannah might have dealt with Samuel's birth and then giving him back to God with all the impropriety and turmoil at the tabernacle.  The strength she had and the trust in Yahweh was awe-inspiring!!  One of the most surprising, and enjoyable, parts was the end.
     As usual, Jill Eileen Smith does an excellent job.  If you like biblical fiction, you will love Hannah's story.  Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling and award-winning author of the Wives of King David, the Wives of the Patriarchs, the Loves of King Solomon, and the Daughters of the Promised Land series.  Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible of Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.  Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.  Learn more at

Judah's Wife Book Review

The Silent Years
A Novel of the Maccabees

SUMMARY:  To be silent would be to deny their God.  To defy would bring the wrath of the king.
     Seeking quiet and safety after a hard childhood, Leah marries Judah, a strong and gentle man, and for the first time in her life Leah believes she'll have peace.  But the very nation Judah was named for has been conquered by a cruel king, who decrees that all Jews are to conform to Syrian laws or risk death for following the laws of Moses.
     Judah's father resists the decree, igniting a war that will cost him his life.  But before dying, he commands Judah to pick up his sword and continue the fight - or bear responsibility for the obliteration of Israel.  Leah, who wants nothing but peace, struggles with her husband's decision - what kind of God would destroy the peace she has sought for so long?
     The miraculous story of the courageous Maccabees is told through the eyes of Judah's wife, who learns that love requires courage . . . and sacrifice.

REVIEW:  The author is upfront about this novel.  While some of it is based on writings of the time (battles, certain characters, some events), quite a bit of it is the author's imagination.  With that being said, Angela Hunt did an excellent job filling in what she imagines happened during the last part of what is referred to as The Silent Years - the 400 years between the last Old Testament prophet's writing and the start of the New Testament.  
     The Maccabees are known to biblical scholars as the family who fought for Jewish rights during a very difficult time.  As Judah's wife, Leah would have a front row seat to everything that happened in this family.  I struggled with Leah and her decisions and actions at times.  She comes from a very abusive household so, when gentle Judah comes calling and offers marriage, she sees it as her chance for a life of peace.  When Judah decides to take up the cause his father started, she tends to turn inward and doesn't share her thoughts and feelings with her husband.  But, as the story moves on, I understood her a little better. The example of what she thought a wife should be and what she should endure was not what her sisters- and mother-in-law showed.  As Leah learns to trust the Lord and Judah more, I like the changes I see in her character and actions.
     This is a great book.  I like how the author takes a little known part of history and develops characters and a complete story line that seems plausible.  If you are interested in bible history, and can keep a little bit of an open mind, I think you will be pleased with this novel.  Make sure you read the Epilogue and Author's Notes.  It just adds to the story.

This book was provided by Bethany House for review without compensation.

Angela Hunt has published more than one hundred books, with sales nearing five million copies worldwide.  She's the New York Times bestselling author of The Tale of Three Trees, The Note, and The Nativity Story.  Angela's novels have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, such as the RITA Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Christian Book Award, and the HOLT Medallion Award.  Romantic Times Book Club presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.  She holds both a doctorate in Biblical Studies and a Th.D. degree.  Angela and her husband live in Florida, along with their mastiffs.  For a complete list of the author's books, visit

Keturah Book Review

The Sugar Baron's Daughters
Book One

SUMMARY:  In 1772 England, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters find themselves the heiresses of their father's estates and know they have one option: Go to the West Indies to save what is left of their heritage.
     Although it flies against all the conventions, they're determined to make their own way in the world.  But, once they arrive in the Caribbean, conventions are the least of their concerns.  On the infamous island of Nevis, the sisters discover the legacy of the legendary sugar barons has vastly declined - and that's just the start of what their eyes are opened to in this harsh and unfamiliar world. 
     Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation.  She could desperately use an ally, but even an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend leaves her questioning his motives.
     To keep her family together and save the plantation that is her last chance at providing for them, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?

REVIEW:  The summary of this book caught my eye: a young English lady and her sisters attempting to manage a sugar plantation all by themselves without any outside help thousands of miles from their home in the late 1700's.  The author does a wonderful job describing life on the island, the impressions of the women and the island itself.  The characters' reactions to the slave market, the ocean front near their home and working hard beside their staff make me feel like I was there experiencing everything first hand.  I like how Keturah fights for her sisters and tells them they do not have to marry for the sake of money, land or anything else, but only marry for love.  I also like how she stands up for her slaves, treating them like humans.  Even though she detests the slave markets, Keturah sees it is a necessary evil on Nevis but does what she can to make them feel like part of a family instead of cattle. 
     This book does not wrap everything about the Banning daughters lives or about trouble they have faced on the plantation.  The rest of the series should take care of this.  I can see how the next two stories will continue their progress as sugar baronesses and their lives on the island.
     This is a great book.  I am very interested in reading the other books in this series when they come out.  I'm sure they will be just as good if not better. 

This book was provided by Bethany House for review without compensation.

Lisa T. Bergren has published more than fifty books with combined sales exceeding three million copies.  A bestselling and award-winning author, she's also a recipient of the RT Lifetime Achievement Award.  Lisa lives in Colorado with her husband and three teen-and-older children.  To learn more, visit