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Saturday, 9 March 2019

A.D. 33: A.D. Series, Bk2 ~ Ted Dekker

   They call her the Queen of the Outcasts. Maviah, a woman whose fate was sealed on her birth by this world - unwanted, illegitimate, female, a slave - subject to the whims of all. But then she met a man named Yeshua who opened her eyes. She found strength in his words, peace from the brutal world around her. Because of what he taught her, she has gathered her own travelling kingdom of outcasts deep in the desert, wielding an authority few have seen. But when her growing power threatens the rulers around her, they set out to crush all she loves, leaving her reeling as a slave once more. She must find Yeshua to save her people, but when she does, she will be horrified to discover that he faces his own death.
   Enter a story full of intrigue, heart-wrenching defeat, uncompromising love, and staggering victory - one that reexamines everything you thought you knew about the heart of Jesus' stunning message and the power that follows for those who follow his easily forgotten way.

My review contains spoilers....
The story was interesting enough to keep me listening, Ellen Archer is a great narrator, and I was keen to see how contact with Yeshua played out in the lives of the central characters from book one.   
** spoiler 1:  My hunch about Judah not being the best match for Maviah paid off - life circumstances became a 'rip off' for him :-(  and his character didn't grow in strength but into bitterness and revenge. 
** spoiler 2:  Dekker leads us straight to the beginning, at the end of the book, of the era of Christian martyrs.  I thought the author was setting us up, and, was resigned to the thought that he was going to have Talya, Saba, or Maviah give their life in that arena.  

I think what let the story part down for me were the preaching chapters towards the end of the book (I enjoy a good sermon - just not inside my historical fiction read where the author has tried to disguise their lengthy sermonising into the guise of supposed storytelling dialogue between the characters).  Added to that, Dekkers portrayal of how he thought Christ acted after his resurrection was a bit of stretch for me.  One example is where the author had him winking at people -  like in scriptures where he that "winketh with his eye/s" is a seriously bad action. 

PS: I wonder if Dekker's editor noticed the overuse of the word thundering?

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Carnegie's Maid ~ Marie Benedict

Clara Kelley is not who they think she is. She's not the experienced Irish maid who was hired to work in one of Pittsburgh's grandest households. She's a poor farmer's daughter with nowhere to go and nothing in her pockets. But the other woman with the same name has vanished, and pretending to be her just might get Clara some money to send back home.
If she can keep up the ruse, that is. Serving as a lady's maid in the household of Andrew Carnegie requires skills he doesn't have, answering to an icy mistress who rules her sons and her domain with an iron fist. What Clara does have is a resolve as strong as the steel Pittsburgh is becoming famous for, coupled with an uncanny understanding of business, and Andrew begins to rely on her. But Clara can't let her guard down, not even when Andrew becomes something more than an employer. Revealing her past might ruin her future — and her family's.
With captivating insight and heart, Carnegie's Maid tells the story of one brilliant woman who may have spurred Andrew Carnegie's transformation from ruthless industrialist into the world's first true philanthropist.

After starting out with such promise - there was a generous amount of classic books and poet/poetry sharing in this book.  Perfect!  - then the audiobook just seemed to start dragging on in the middle: I ended up skipping past chapters, bar one, the very last chapter.   Listening to this while also going through One Child by Mei Fong was perhaps not the best idea.    I think I might have appreciated the pace and storytelling in Carnegies's Maid more if I’d read the printed book and, perhaps, if I hadn’t been so caught up in that soberly disturbing read by Fong; so, I’m going to take that last factor into account and gift it with 3 stars, instead of 2+.  

The portions of the book I listened to were definitely a clean romance, not sure about the 3 chapters I skipped :D

A.D. 30 ~ Ted Dekker

In this historical novel, New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker tells the epic journey of a woman who rises from the depths of her society to lead her people when she is shown the way by Jesus. A sweeping epic set in the harsh deserts of Arabia and ancient Palestine. A war that rages between kingdoms on the earth and in the heart. The harrowing journey of the woman at the center of it all. The story of Jesus in a way you have never experienced it. Step back in time to the year of our Lord, Anno Domini, 30.

I didn't go into this book expecting theological accuracy  - the reciting of the beatitudes (grinds teeth), and the authors interpretation of what Jesus would think about Herod marry Herodotus, as opposed to what John the Baptist said - and so just enjoyed it as a Christian historical fiction that has a lot of artist licence.  
While the narrator definitely made this an easy and very enjoyable listen,  the story itself is not an absolutely stunning “loved’ it 5 star one. 

I'm not sure about Maviah's relationship with Judah, I don't think they're suited somehow - I can't put my finger on it - I know he's a warrior etc.  etc.  but the author seemed to make him a bit too 'bouncy', not stoic enough, for her.  
I've got the second audiobook on hold at the library.

Extra: There is some physical attraction/kissing in the book, but no bedroom scenes.  Infanticide - a warrior throws a baby out the window to its death. 

The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart ~ Christine Hoover

I've had this book on kindle, waiting to be read, since October 2013 and though I did start it  I just couldn't seem to settle and connect with the content.  This month was the perfect time for me to read it:  God knew I was in the right space to be encouraged by the encouragement and find positive self-analysis in the more challenging portions.  

I found this to be a very good, thought-provoking, read and went haring off down scripture studying trails of my own.  I know an author can't cover every scenario in a book, but I was really keen to see if Christine addressed the specific issue of dealing with manipulators and narcissistic personalities during her church planting time.  Sadly for me, she didn't.

This is not just a book for church planting wives, women in or around those in a ministry/ Christian serving role, or who is a Christian home educating mum,  could also find this a beneficial read.

Here are a few of the encouraging excerpts I jotted down from Christine's book:
   Is there any area of life not characterized by constant demand and limited supply?
In the end, however, we can only give so much. According to our human limits, as we give out to others, our supplies must be replenished. If they are not replenished, we become like a lion tamer fending off weariness, discouragement, dryness, or emptiness. Or perhaps anger, bitterness, or feelings of being unloved or alone.
Who will care for us? The Lord will, for He never grows weary of demands, never needs a break, never sleeps, never takes time off. 

   We often associate peace with changed circumstances or a lack of busyness, but as Jesus modelled, God’s peace comes through dependence in the midst of busyness. Approaching God through prayer, Bible reading, and worship, in which we bring our needy selves to receive from Him, are acts of need. Peace comes through this dependence, through ceding control into more capable hands. 

The number beside each book is my personal rating for the book, or audiobook, at the time of reading with the range being:

(1) = would not recommend,

(2) = some interesting aspects but not one of my recommended reads,

(3) = would recommend.

(4) = Really good, enjoyable, (or worthy) read, would definitely recommend

(5) = Excellent book, highly recommend