Category Archives: book lovers

Review of A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker

I love when I find a book that really moves me to the core, that stays with me. I love a book that I cannot put down. I love learning more about the times and people that lived in the time of Jesus of Nazareth. Ted Dekker’s book, A.D.30 was all that and more.

On a road trip with my parents this past weekend, I took along this book and found I could not put it down. When it got dark in the car on our way home, I pulled out a flashlight from my purse, in spite of feeling ill with a bout of bronchitis. It was that good. It helped me see another picture of our glorious Savior and His ways and dealings with people just like you and me, only that they lived in a different time and place.

Published in 2014 by Center Street of Hachette Book Group, A.D. 30 is followed with a sequel, A.D. 33, which only came out at the beginning of October. I will definitely be reading it soon!

Maviah, a rejected daughter of a Bedu king, is the main character  and suffers a tremendous loss. Because of this, she is sent on a mission to avenge her loss and restore the honor of her father (who has been defeated and rendered speechless)  by the Thamud with a sword of Varus. She goes on a long and dangerous journey to see Herod, the Jewish king in the time of Jesus. Two slaves of her father Rami are appointed to go with her: Saba and Judah. Together they cross a valley of death, the Nafud desert. Sandstorms and the loss of camels are only the beginning of their problems.

Fear and hatred imprison Maviah and it seems she is destined to never live up to what she really is: a daughter of a Bedu king and royalty. But that changes when she meets the Man everyone is talking about in the land of Judea: a so called mystic named Yeshua. The very minute she lays her eyes upon Him, Maviah is drawn to the Savior of the world.

There are many twists and turns in the plot and it kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved how the author instilled both deep meaning and a desire to read to the very end. Some of the book’s quotes about how Maviah’s thinking changed completely were amazing.

As the characters discuss the increasing threats to Yeshua, one of them says:

” ‘Yeshua finds no threat in this rumor!’ he proclaimed…’You will see, he holds no grievance. So then, we too must hold none. Rome only does what Rome knows. Herod only does what Herod knows. But we must offer them no judgment. All grievance comes from fear of harm. To release grievance is to believe in God and the one he has sent. Do only this to be saved. This is the way, you will see.’ ” 

page 318, AD 30

I marked that page with a piece of Kleenex. What wisdom! The world cannot do other than what it does. How many years has it taken me to realize that the ways of God are totally foreign to the ways of this world? When we are not afraid, we are living in His perfect love. (I John 4:18)

Mr. Dekker painted with words a beautiful picture of our Savior, and that for us to know Him is to no longer be afraid.  A quotation from Jesus’s teachings in the Bible begins each chapter of this book. In the end, an appendix provides references for the Bible verses that are used.

Mixed in with the fiction, the events matched what was recorded by ancient historians, for example, the divorce of Herod from his first wife, Phasa, the imprisonment of John the Baptist, and the calming of the storm on the sea.

Ted Dekker is known for writing Christian thrillers, but this is the first time I have ever read one of his books. In his prologue, Mr. Dekker, the son of missionaries, told how writing this story opened up for him a whole new way of thinking and living before His Savior. At the end of the prologue, he states:

“So enter the story if you like and see if you can see what Maviah saw. It may change the way you understand your Father, your Master, yourself, and your world.”

page X of Prologue

For me, the story of Maviah did just that. Thank you, Ted Dekker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One of my baby book faves: Disney’s Pooh’s Early-to-Bed and Early-to-Rise Hum

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Wouldn’t it be nice if life was as easy as following the advice in this precious board book, tested and approved by my grandson to bring delight to little eyes?
While I prefer the original A.A. Milne Winnie the Pooh books to the Disney ones, I take an exception with this book. I have to admit I have as much fun reading it as (hopefully) the little guy enjoys hearing it. He hasn’t started fussing yet so I think he likes it. ( I will test it on my other grandson too, who is a bit further away, on my upcoming visit.)

It starts out with, as you can see, “Bees buzz in the morn to tell a bear to rise.” This is time for Grandma to act rather foolishly and pretend she is a bee and tickle little grandson under his chin, making bee noises. The next lines in the book become rather Ben Franklin-ish, saying that a bear who stays in bed will never be wise. The next page encourages Pooh bear to enjoy his day, and not to dawdle on the way. The kicker is on the following page, the Pooh Bear is to hum and not act glum. When I get to the word “hum” I start humming vociferously. Then, by humming and not acting glum, he will have lots of friends and things will work out in the end. The last page says the old Ben Franklin proverb of early to bed and early to rise can make a bear be successful in his endeavors.

Doesn’t it you make you wish a happy life could be obtained as simply as that? Getting up early, enjoying your day, humming and not acting glum? These are all good suggestions for little ears to hear. Maybe I should try them all more often!

The way this little board book rhymes makes for lots of fun using lots of inflection. When I put the book up close to my grandson’s face, he seemed to light up. I read to my own kids a lot when they were little, but it seems I even enjoy it more as a grandma. And it is never too early to start reading to babies, IMO.

I found this book at a library book sale, it is copyrighted 1999 by The Pooh Properties Trust.

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Review of The Boy Who Said No by Patti Sheehy

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This book is an exciting true to life fiction story of a man named Frankie Mederos, and is a real page turner. I did not want to put it down! Frankie lived in Cuba when Fidel Castro suddenly seized power, thereby making life extremely difficult for the people who lived there. Mederos recalled watching with his grandfather Castro and his soldiers parade down the streets with their guns, while most Cubans applauded. But his grandfather was not fooled, and taught his favorite grandson about the evil that descended upon their island with this so called government “reform.”

Without giving too much away, the action gets hot as Frankie grows up and his multiple talents are realized by the Communists. Frankie also falls in love with a beauty named Magda and it is their relationship which will determine the painful choice Frankie must make which will affect his family and life forever.

The people of Cuba previously suffered in the corrupt regime of Batiste, but this was nothing compared to the suffering under Castro. Horror stories abounded of people tortured in prisons. A friend of Frankie’s humbly supported his impoverished mother and siblings by shining shoes. One day, he was accosted by a Communist soldier, his goods confiscated and ordered to never operate his business again. The boy was absolutely heartbroken, knowing he could not give his mother anything to help feed and clothe their starving family. Such was the life when everything was either given up for the collectivist state or destroyed.

This book made me thank God for my American freedom, even though it is teetering on a precipice right now. There is a sequel to this book that is due out in September, 2014 called Stalked: The Boy Who Said No. I can’t wait to read it!

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Review of “The Friendly Book: by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Garth Williams

I perchance found this little gem at a yard sale or library sale. My edition is dated 1981, but it is originally from 1954. I am sure most people know Margaret Wise Brown. She is the author of the famous Goodnight Moon, which many have known and loved and shared with their children.

This book is also very sweet. It reminds me a little bit of Richard Scarry books, because the beautiful full color illustrations have little dogs riding in cars, on trains, rabbits riding in boats, etc.

There is a rhythm to the theme of “I like…” First is cars, then trains, then stars, snow and more. Each item liked has its own little verse to accompany it. One neat thing is she lists different kinds within each category. This would be a great way for a parent to interact with their child as they read the book. The child can identify them. For example,  on a two page spread there are many colorful dogs. She writes of six kinds: big, fat, old, little, doggy, and puppy dogs. The  parent can ask the child to identify all the little dogs on the two page spread. Then, you could count them together. Then you could work on colors. “How many little dogs are wearing blue?”  In other words, parents can use this book to help not only with language skills, but colors, counting, and discrimination.

Children will like it because the colors are bright and the rhythm is inviting. It is especially nice when the parent can add some expression to the words, which could easily be done here. So, if you are able to find this old book, it will provide a chance to turn off the TV, the phones, and just sit down with your preschool child (who is absorbing facts like a sponge) and have some quality time together.100_1795

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Review of Sarah Whitcher’s Story by Elizabeth Yates

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I found an ex-lib copy of Sarah Whitcher’s Story for sale at a local library and bought it. I remembered hearing about this book while I was homeschooling my children. The hardback version that I bought was beautifully illustrated in black and white sketches by Nora Unwin.

Last night, I sat down and read it. It is based on a real event that happened in Warren, New Hampshire in the late 1700’s. A little daughter of a pioneer family named Sarah Whitcher becomes lost in the woods outside her log home one day. Her mother and father had gone to get supplies and Sarah wanted to go with them, but was not permitted. Her older brother was to watch over her and some of the other children.

But Sarah slipped away and no one could find her by the time Mother and Father got home. In the meantime, she is playing in the woods pretending she is her mother and father. It starts to rain and she cannot find her way back to the log cabin. She ends up being protected by a mother bear who treats her like she is her bear-cub. But Sarah does not realize that it is a bear protecting her, for she thinks it is the family’s dog.

The community rallies around the Whitcher family in the attempt to find the little girl. Neighbors come from far and near to help out in the search every day for three days. Sarah’s mother is only heartened when she hears her husband tell her to trust in the Lord that Sarah would be found.

After the third day, the neighbors are ready to give up the search, for they think she will not be found alive. Mrs. Whitcher implores them to come back for one more day of searching, and so they agree.

Sarah’s parents refuse to give up hope and on that fourth day a stranger walks into the clearing saying he had  dreamed three times about a little girl that was lost and in the dream was shown just where to find her. He tells them he will find her. The Whitcher’s neighbor accompanies him, but in disbelief.  Astonishingly, the man walks to the spot that he saw three times in his dream and finds the little girl there.

A signal is given by gunfire that Sarah has been found and soon all the neighbors are rejoicing with the Whitcher’s. Mr. Whitcher says that He knew the Lord would help them find her somehow. At the end of the book, the stranger soon leaves but he hears the village singing praises to God as he walks away.

This is a great book for readers in elementary school. It could be read by the child alone but it also would be great for a read aloud. Emphasized within are the values of faith, family and community. It shows children how neighbors used to help each other out and worked together, something that has sadly become less and less common.

The black and white pictures are endearing, especially of the little girl Sarah. This is an older book, published in 1971 by E.F. Dutton, but it is a classic. It will help children learn about our pioneer heritage as well. I really enjoyed it, and it reminded me of my love for reading pioneer stories when I was a girl. It will be worth the time taken to share with your young readers.

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A review of Grandma’s Scrapbook by Josephine Nobisso, Illustrated by Maureen Hyde

New grandma that I am, I found a lovely book to review called Grandma’s Scrapbook by Josephine Nobisso. This is a picture book for preschoolers that I found at our local library.

Al little girl remembers, from looking at a scrapbook, precious times with her Grandma. The Grandmother made it with love so the child will remember all her special times with her grandmother.  It tells of the child growing up, from baby pictures, toddlerhood, and onward. Grandma played an integral part in this child’s life. Going to the ocean and being dunked by the waves, having a cocoa party in their swimsuits, bicycling, and singing around the piano were some of the activities they enjoyed together. All the while, Grandma adds the memories to the scrapbook, starting it with a lock of her “crow black” hair and a snippet of her grand-daughter’s baby hair.

As the pictures progress throughout the story, Grandma looks increasingly older with each one and the little girl grows into a young woman. She gets to make a trip to Grandma’s alone, but she cries when she says goodbye to her that year. That brings back memories for me as well. Every summer, my family and I drove 500 miles to visit my  one grandmother. I would cry as it got to be time to say goodbye, for I never knew if I would see my grandma again.

Finally, the girl takes her grandma for a walk in her wheelchair. That will be her last visit with her grandma. Now, she can evoke the memories by leafing through the scrapbook that grandma made with love.

The full color pictures add a lot to the story. This book will help parents who are trying to explain the death of someone special in their child’s life.and help children to deal with their grief. I enjoyed reading this book myself, being an adult. It also has inspired me to start a scrapbook for my precious little grandsons.Image

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An endearing story of selflessness…The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico

OK, I admit to you all that I had a book on my shelf that I bought for my children when homeschooling them. It sat for many years. I am not even sure that any of them read it, but last night, I said to myself that the book had sat long enough neglected. I pulled out my ex-library copy of Paul Gallico’s novella The Snow Goose.

I have a vague memory of seeing this as  a movie and it haunted me. For some reason, I thought it was a Christmas tale but it isn’t. However, it does convey the spirit of Christmas as the main character gives his life for others.

Paul Gallico’s short story was first published in the Saturday Evening Post and then made into a novella. Philip Rhayader is the main character, but he is deformed. His one hand is like a claw and he is hunchbacked. Society shuns him so he lives in a lighthouse all alone, but he has a magic touch with the birds he encounters along the English shoreline. One day a disheveled little girl comes to him with a wounded snow goose in her arms. He is able to nurse the goose back to health, and he and the goose eventually becomes attached to Philip.

Though the bird is from Canada, it does not return there, but every winter will fly down to winter with Philip. The little girl, Fritha, comes back every year to see the snow goose. Eventually, a deep friendship grows between Fritha and Philip, even though she recoils because of his deformities at first.Fritha looks beyond the outward and realizes she loves Philip as she grows into a woman.

Britain is at war with Germany in the second World War and Philip hears of wounded soldiers trapped at the Battle of Dunkirk. One day Fritha sees Philip getting into his boat. She wants to go with him, but he must go alone across the sea to rescue the wounded soldiers and collect them off the bloody beach. But actually, Philip is not alone, for the snow goose is flying with him.

He ends up rescuing hundreds of soldiers. But the Germans attack with their machine guns and Philip is killed. The snow goose protects him whenever someone comes near. The bird becomes like a legend. and anyone who sees him is protected.

When the snow goose returns to the lighthouse alone, Fritha knows that Philip is gone. She comes to the lighthouse every day to care for the birds. But, at last, the lighthouse is destroyed by a German bomber.

The Snow Goose teaches adolescents, well, all of us, valuable lessons. Fritha looked beyond an apparent handicaps and saw true beauty in Philip as he cared for the creatures, and the soldiers on the beach. The Snow Goose shows us his loyalty by coming back to Philip’s lighthouse year after year, and guarding his body in death. Philip was kind to all, in spite of being an outcast. Good lessons, all, and revealing the wonder of the spirit of giving as exemplified when God became a tiny baby for our sakes.

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