Thursday, October 15, 2015

Book Review: Chivalrous

Chivalrous (Valiant Hearts Book 2)
By Dina Sleiman
Bethany House, 2015
English, 368 pgs


From the Back Cover

With Her Future In Jeopardy, This Unforgettable Heroine Won't Go Down
Without a Fight!

Strong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers, but her parents view her only as a marriage pawn. When her domineering father makes plans to see her wed to a brutish man, Gwendolyn must fight for her future.

She's surprised, however, for that clash to include a handsome, good-hearted newcomer. Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, but he finds in Gwendolyn the most unexpected of women.

Tournaments, intrigue, and battles--along with twists and turns aplenty--await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.

I really enjoyed this book. I have not read book one in the Valiant Hearts series but it didn't in any way impede the story of this book. There is enough "backstory" to help you understand what happened in the first book.

I'm a fan of knights and kings and that whole world of chivalry, jousting and courts. I think this book is an excellent example of that genre. The main characters, Gwendolyn and Allen, are very well developed and very easy to like. They struggle with not only their own identities but also with finding out who God is and how He relates to their lives. 

The family dynamic for Gwen, while hard to read at times, was actually pretty accurate for that time and I appreciate that the author didn't gloss over the lack of women's rights at that time.

For Gwen (and even the Duchess Adela) to do the things they do in the story requires courage and no small amount of faith. They learn to set aside preconceived notions of women and become heroines of their own stories.

I liked that the author uses points of view from both main characters. It made it a little easy to figure out what was going to happen, but it was still a fun read.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review on this blog and a commercial book selling site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Book Review: Adventure Bible

Adventure Bible for Little Ones
By Catherine DeVries
Zonderkidz, 2015
English, 40 pgs

Ten stories from the Adventure Bible Storybook are now available for toddlers in the popular and affordable padded board book format.

The Adventure Bible for Toddlers starts children ages 2-5 on the journey of a lifetime, teaching them about the Bible's great stories and themes. Using simple text and art from the wildly popular Adventure Bible Storybook, it helps young children grow closer to Jesus as they learn about all God has done in the world. With ten beautifully illustrated and iconic Bible stories from the Old and New Testament, this sturdy padded board book will stimulate toddlers' minds and fill their hearts with love for their heavenly Father. Parents, grandparents, and children alike will treasure the Adventure Bible for Toddlers as a classic addition to their read-aloud library.

This is a very small board style book for little ones just learning about the Bible. My youngest has been asking for his own Bible for a while now but he's still in the "I'm going to tear pages" stage of development so we've been hesitant to get him a larger Bible. This one has made him very happy and has been read over and over already.

Each of the stories is four pages and has full color photos to go along with the story. The words are easy to read and understand. We've been using it for sight word recognition as well as getting him to remember the stories that are in the book.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review on this blog and a commercial book selling site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Book Review: My God and My All

My God and My All: The Life of Saint Francis of Assisi
By Elizabeth Goudge
Plough Publishing House, 2015
English, 310 pgs

The captivating story of the world’s favorite saint is now retold for a modern audience by one of the great novelists of our time.

Perhaps more than any other figure in Christian history since Jesus Christ, Saint Francis of Assisi has captured our imagination, for his is a story of extreme self-sacrifice, of love to God and man. How could this wealthy, handsome youth cast away all the advantages that were his by birth and choose instead a career of poverty and humility? How could he attract members of all strata of society to his mission? And how, when his order became established throughout Europe, could he renounce great personal power and humbly continue his life’s work?

Here is Francis, from his twelfth-century boyhood to his life as a missionary roaming the very boundaries of the known world. Here too are the men and women who followed him―Bernard de Quintavalle, the rich businessman; Peter Cathanii, the lawyer; Brother Giles, the farmer’s son; Lady Clare; and so many others―all drawn together by the personal magnetism and humble faith of their leader, all re-created by bestselling novelist Elizabeth Goudge against a rich medieval canvas.

My God and My All: The Life of Saint Francis of Assisi does not read like a traditional biography, rather presenting the life of the famous preacher in novel format. While this approach allows for author Elizabeth Goudge’s writing to flow in a more readable manner, there are times when it feels awkward to the point of unnecessary flattery. Use of “dialog” and first-person presentation takes an unwarranted license with the subject.

The author is clearly familiar with Catholic theology and presents Francis from that perspective – the acceptance of Francis’s canonization is clear as well as several other distinctly Catholic points. While this is understandable given the dominance of Roman Catholicism at the time, a more balanced approach as a biography would be welcome. Due to the odd format of the book (originally published in 1959) source citation and footnotes are nonexistent. Those who read from an evangelical perspective may stumble over usage (even the use of “saint” as a position, rather than a description of a follower and believer in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord).

It’s difficult to recommend this book to anyone other than those who are already reasonably familiar with Francis’s life. It does not serve as a scholarly work of biographical research and it’s frankly too dry as a novel. It’s that lack of format that hinders this from being a usable work rather than a mildly interesting diversion.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review on this blog and a commercial bookselling site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.