Sunday, September 20, 2015

Reveiw of Bathsheba

From the back cover...

One of Ancient Israel's Most Famous Women--As You've Never Looked at Her Before

One of the Bible's most misunderstood and misjudged women, Bathsheba comes to life in this new biblical reimagining from Angela Hunt. Combining historical facts with detailed fiction, this is an eye-opening portrait that will have you reconsidering everything you thought you knew about her.

After receiving God's promise of a lifelong reign and an eternal dynasty, King David forces himself on Bathsheba, a loyal soldier's wife. When her resulting pregnancy forces the king to murder her husband and add her to his harem, Bathsheba struggles to protect her son while dealing with the effects of a dark prophecy and deadly curse on the king's household.

My thoughts…

I absolutely LOVED this book! Out of all the books I’ve reviewed lately, this is my favorite so far!

As the story of Bathsheba and David can be somewhat controversial and hotly debated in the Christian world, I would recommend reading the author’s note at the end of the book, before diving into the story. Here Angela Hunt explains why she wrote certain aspects of the story the way that she did (I'm trying not to give away any spoilers, but if you've read the Bible, then you've already got a pretty good idea. ;) ). Bottom line to keep in mind with Biblical fiction is that we have no way of knowing the real thoughts, emotions, and driving forces behind their decisions. This is one person's take on the story, as well as the lessons God revealed. It's always best to keep an open mind with Biblical fiction unless the author is not following the Biblical account. That being said, anything that was told a specific way in the Bible was absolutely, 100% written that way in this story.

The story is told through Bathsheba's and Nathan the prophets perspectives, and it is written in first person, which I absolutely love! I think a part of me was expecting this story to be much sadder then it was, but despite the heavy subject matter, I found it to be quite uplifting. The pages overflowed with Biblical insights that just blew me away!

Personally, I think I've always romanticized the story of David and Bathsheba. In a, "the king falls in love with a peasant girl" kind of way, in an attempt to ignore the harsh reality of the story. I love what Angela Hunt said in the author's note at the end of the book: "Are we so enthralled with the man 'after God's own heart' that we cannot see that he was as fallible as any other human?" Angela did an amazing job of capturing David's imperfections, lusts, and failings, as well as his love for God, repentant spirit, and passion. I walked away from this book with a new look at David.

Nathan's story was very intertwined with not only David, but with Bathsheba as well. It was an interesting twist that added so much depth to the story. It was the perfect way to write some of the scenes instead of everything being from Bathsheba's perspective.

Bathsheba was an amazing character. I could relate with her, cry with her, and learn with her. As a baby, Bathsheba had a powerful prophecy spoken over her in the story. It made Bathsheba the perfect heroine who struggled with God's call, fought God's call, and worked towards God's call - something I think all of us can relate to ourselves!

I was desperate to read Bathsheba after reading Esther, book one in the Dangerous Beauty Series. This novel did not disappoint, and I can't wait to read the last book in the series, which is about Delilah. What else can I say? I loved this book! Before I even finished reading it, I was recommending it to friends and family. Buy this book!!!

I received a copy of Bathsheba by Angela Hunt from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

See you guys on October 1st! God bless! :)

V. Joy Palmer

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Review of Last Chance Hero

From the back cover...

What happens when your heart is intercepted before you even know it's in play?

The folks in Last Chance, New Mexico, could not be more pleased. Dr. Jessica MacLeod has opened an office right on Main Street and Andy Ryan, the best athlete the little town ever produced, has come home from the NFL to coach the high school football team. Unfortunately, Dr. Jess immediately gets off on the wrong foot with this football-obsessed town when she admits that she's never seen a football game, isn't really interested in doing so, and in fact doesn't know a first down from a goalpost.

Despite having little in common, Jess and Andy find themselves drawn to each other. But when a disagreement over the future of an injured player puts them both on the defensive, it begins to look like this game is over . . .

My thoughts...

I really liked Last Chance Hero! It was easy reading and the pages flew by. I had a Mexican food craving for days after reading this book (But that could be the power of suggestion coupled with strong pregnancy hormones!). Regardless, the green chili sauce described in this book made me want to hit every Mexican restaurant within the state. The small town was charming, but the secondary characters did not overwhelm the main storyline.

I could relate to the heroine, Dr. Jessica "Jess" MacLeod, in that I've very little interest in football. (For those of you who have the urge to throw something at me because of that statement, please don't aim for the face. :) ) However, there is a Friday Night Lights/Facing the Giants/Remember the Titans quality to the story that will satisfy football fans, but isn't overdone for those of us who are "weird."

Andy Ryan was a sweet hero. He's the football hero from Last Chance's Glory Days. Due to injury, he retired early and is now coaching the high school football team. Between the town putting tons of pressure on him to reignite the Glory Days and demons he hasn't dealt with from his past, Ryan has quite a bit on his plate.

I was slightly surprised at how easy Jess and Andy's relationship seemed to go until they disagreed over the treatment of one of the football team's stronger players. Even that though seemed to be resolved relatively easy. In my opinion, it was mostly wounded pride that pulled them apart. Which isn't a bad spin because really, if we can get over our wounded pride, more rifts could be resolved.

My only real critique to the story is the spiritual journey for the characters. Most of the reviews that I've read where the reviewer complains about this, they says there was too much. I felt like it was the opposite. Andy's spiritual journey was good, but I just felt Jess' journey wasn't a complete look at the questions and struggles that Christians and non-Christians alike face. She's not a Christian when she comes to Last Chance, and despite the fact that Andy and the majority of her friends are, there are not a lot of conversations about God, and there's not a lot of soul searching on Jess' part regarding this. So it fell like all of a sudden at the end of the book, she understood without having the reflections or the questions that we all go through. A point in the pros column is that the story isn't preachy, which is great because who likes that? That is a helpful quality for new Christians or non-Christians.

Last Chance Hero is the fourth book in the A Place to Call Home Series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand. The story works well on it's own. The bonus of reading the first three books is that you see the previous character's turn up, and that's always fun!

I received a copy of Last Chance Hero by Cathleen Armstrong from Revell Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

God bless you guys! See you on September 20th!! :) (Oh, my goodness! Where did September go???)

V. Joy Palmer

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Power of Fiction

You guys might have gathered that I read.

A lot.

I haven't counted in a few years, but back then I had well over 500 books. I have a personal goal to have a home library that rivals the Library of Congress. I know that's not really possible (did you know the Library of Congress has a copy of every book printed in the United States?). It's just my way of saying I want a big, huge, multi-level library.

And I love to read fiction.

A lot.

A high percentage of my book collection is fiction.

Here's the truth, I've felt some judgment from people about my love of fiction over nonfiction. I've been made to feel like the books I read are of lesser value because everything is fake. Like the importance of what I'm learning means nothing because it's "dumbed down" because of romance, sword fights, or imaginary places. Like it's just not as good.

I have nothing against nonfiction. Those of you who follow me know that I also write on Snack Time Devotions, a daily devotional blog. As a Christian, I spend a lot of time reading a nonfiction book called the Bible. ;)

The truth is, there is power in fiction. I have a collection of authors who write compelling/funny/realistic stories in such a way that I stop and am in awe of how profoundly they've hit exactly the issue I'm struggling with without having laid eyes on me. I love how God can use a fictional story to change someone's life!

I like this quote about books that I happened across...

If you can read a book that breathes God's love and life into you, then it's a good book. If you've found a story that speaks to the heartache in your soul, then keep reading. If you've got an author who understands the enormity of their ministry in linking words together in a way that makes you tear up in wonder, then who has the right to judge? If you can walk away from a story with hope, love, renewed purpose, vision, healing, joy, or a better understanding of our awesome God, then that book is phenomenal!

Different stories do it for different people. Don't ever let someone look down on you if you, like me, are a fiction fanatic. God created you to find purpose in the story.

God bless you guys! See you on September 10th!

V. Joy Palmer