Sunday, June 23, 2013

Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate

I always love reading a fiction book based on a Bible story! Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate is written by Diana Wallis Taylor. I think it's interesting that there is only one small paragraph in the Bible that mentions Claudia, but the author has woven a beautiful story about what might have been. Diana has done her research though, and was able to pull together Claudia's family history and lineage which helped add to the story.
The story begins when Claudia is just 12 years old, and is taken away from her mother, grandmother and everything she has ever known. Her grandfather, Tiberius Caesar has sent for her to come live with him in his royal palace. Claudia's mother, Julia was disowned by Tiberius long ago for her wild behavior and must remain in Reggio alone though she is ill. The emperor requests that Scribonia, Claudia's grandmother deliver Claudia to the palace and then return to her own people.

Upon arrival to the palace, Claudia meets her maidservant Hotep who is close to own age. Though Hotep is a servant, her and Claudia soon become friends. Unfortunately, Claudia also meets Sejanus, Tiberius's royal advisor. She soon learns of all of the wicked things that Sejanus is capable of, and does her best to steer clear of him. Claudia has a few run ins with him and his wrath follows her for many years. Even long after her marriage to Lucius Pontius Pilate.

Although Claudia's marriage to Lucius was arranged, she clearly loved him. There was quite an age difference (she was 16 and he was in his thirties), but in those times, it made no difference. The story follows Claudia and Lucius as Lucius governs Caesarea, Judea, and Jerusalem, and the birth of their first child. We also read about what was going on with Jesus's teachings, and what happened after Lucius condemned Jesus to die on the cross.

This book was definitely an interesting read that I enjoyed very much! I like the thought that Claudia's story may have actually turned out this way. I think the author did an excellent job at portraying Claudia and Lucius and the emotions they both felt  as Lucius made his decisions. The author conveyed that Lucius was remorseful after sentencing Jesus to death, and that in a way, he did believe that the rumors were true about Jesus. That He really was the Son of God. She also closes the end of the book with a note saying how she did her research and that she found out that there is a `Orthodox church named for Lucius Pilate. She states that she would like to believe that meant that Lucius did eventually come to know Jesus and that he realized he had indeed been forgiven. I would like to believe that also.

I rate this book as 5 stars and I think it's safe to say that this is a book I will read over and over again.

I received this book for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group to give my honest unbiased opinion.
This book will be available June 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"The Christian Mama's Guide to Having a Baby" by Erin Macpherson

This week I had the privilege of reading and writing a review of "The Christian Mama's Guide to Having a Baby" by Erin Macpherson. First of all, NO I am not pregnant. :) This just looked like a good book and since I hope to actually be pregnant someday soon, I thought it couldn't hurt to read up on pregnancy a bit even if I have already done it  2 1/2 times.

Second of all, if you are looking for a book chock full of medical advice written by a medical professional, look elsewhere. With that being said, I still LOVED this book! I felt that most of Erin's advice is spot on with what I have experienced in my previous pregnancies. Yet she does it with such humor that makes you laugh right out loud while reading. I'm sure I received some strange looks from my husband!

Erin shares her humorous and completely accurate depiction of gaining weight, morning (or in my case, ALL DAY) sickness, mood swings, labor and delivery, and so much more. She shares the ups and downs of every trimester and what to expect in each one, what you do and don't actually need for your baby, and my personal favorite...what your husband is probably thinking while you're busy growing into a whale.

Throughout the chapters, you will also run across Erin's "Time-Out for Mom" sections. Each "Time-Out" is complete with Bible verses to help deal with every current pregnancy woe, and prayer to go along. I think this is a great idea, and will probably be posting these on my wall next time I'm preggo as reminders that I will make it through!

This was the second "Christian Mama's Guide" that I have read by Erin Macpherson, with the first being "The Christian Mama's Guide to Parenting a Toddler". She also has two other "Christian Mama's" guides available called "Baby's First Year" and "Grade School Years", both of which look excellent. So I will sum this all up to say that I think these guides are fabulous and now I am eager to read the rest! I rate this book as 5 stars and will definitely be recommending it to all of my pregnant friends!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the® <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax

"Clear Winter Nights: A journey into truth, doubt, and what comes after" by Trevin Wax is quite an interesting book, but definitely not light reading material. It's a short fiction story based on theology that really dives deep into the questions that all of us Christians face.

Chris Walker thought he had his whole life figured out. After just finishing college, Chris was about to help plant a new church alongside his fiance when he suddenly began having doubts. About his fiance, about his beliefs... about everything that was important to him. On top of that, Chris's grandmother passes away and a relative reveals some life changing family secrets about Chris's father.

After Chris's grandfather, Gil suffers a stroke, Chris's mother suggests that he go stay with his grandfather for a few days to help him out. But instead, Gil ends up helping Chris. As a former pastor, Gil can help his grandson answer his questions about God.

Trevin Wax is an author of multiple books and posts on a popular blog called Kingdom People. He is also editor of a small group based curriculum being developed by Lifeway Christian Resources.

I received this book for free from Multnomah Waterbrook Publishing Group to give my honest unbiased opinion. I rate it as 4 stars.

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

Life in Chapel Springs hasn't been the same for Madison McKinley ever since her twin brother, Michael died 10 years ago. Perhaps what haunts her the most is that the cause of his death has always remained a mystery. Eager to end the nightmares, Madison is determined to sail in the regatta in her brother's honor and to win and fulfill his only dream.

Her plan is to learn to sail with Evan Higgins, longtime winner of the regatta, but when an emergency arises for Evan, Madison is left with only one option. Sailing with Beckett O'Reilly, Chapel Spring's very own bad boy and the son of the town drunk. But what other choices does she have? The sooner she wins the regatta, the better. She can't bear to lose any more sleep to the nightmares that cloud her dreams.

Beckett is also apprehensive about teaching Madison sailing lessons, but for his own set of reasons. He'd had a crush on Madison McKinley for as long as he can remember, but he never stood a chance with her. Beckett knows she would never want to date someone with a past like his. Even though he had turned his life around and become a Christian. But it was too late. She would never want anything to do with him if she really knew the truth about him.  

I don't want to give away too much of the story, but it was actually packed with a lot of twists and turns! I liked how the author really dove into Madison's spiritual life. There were times when Madison's faith was at an all time low, but then the reader gets to experience her journey back to God and a renewal of her faith. 

I also loved the plot of the story. I used to read a lot of Nicholas Sparks' books but I couldn't stand the inappropriate elements of the books. Denise Hunter has written a beautiful story here that is equivalent to any Nicholas Sparks book I have read but without any hint of inappropriateness. This is a book I could read over and over again, and will definitely recommend to friends. I can't wait to read more of Denise's work! 

I loved this book and will definitely give it 5 stars! 

**I received this book for free from Litfuse to give my honest unbiased opinion.**

Saturday, June 8, 2013

"That Certain Summer" by Irene Hannon {Review and Book Giveaway!}

Val and Karen are two sisters who have never gotten along. Maybe it's because they were so different, or maybe it has something to do with their mother's constant negativity and comparing one sister to the other. Either way, the girls have never been able to quite place why they were always at odds, but they find that this summer they have to work together whether they like it or not.

Karen has always been the faithful daughter, answering to her mother's every beck and call. All the while placing her own happiness on hold and doing whatever she can to make her mother happy. Val ventured out on her own at a young age and never looked back. Karen never could understand how Val could just leave everything behind and forget everything she ever knew. When Val learns she has to return to her hometown for the summer to help care for her mother, she is reluctant. Of course she wants to help her mother, but there are too may memories there that she has worked hard to forget. Maybe now is the time for her to face memories and regrets once and for all. Once she returns home though, she realizes it's not going to be as easy as she imagined it would be. 

Meanwhile, Karen is dealing with her own set of problems. An ex-husband, a teenage daughter, and now the church choir director? Her ex-husband cheated on her more than once. How could she ever trust him again? She yearns to do what's best for her daughter, but how does she know what that is? And how is she supposed to discern her feelings for the new choir director, or what those feelings mean? 

Can the two sisters work together for the summer and get along?

This is the first book that I have read by Irene Hannon but I really enjoyed it! There is a bit of a twist to the story that I didn't anticipate when I started the book, but began to figure it out halfway through. The chapters alternate between four different points of view. A little bit different from books I have read in the past, as most of those shift between two or maybe three points of view. However, it was easy to follow along to, and it kept my interest. I rate this book as 4 stars! :)

**Available June 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.**

I received this book for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group to give my honest unbiased opinion.

Enter to win a copy of this book! Winner will be announced next Saturday, June 16, 2013.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

"Stealing the Preacher" by Karen Witemeyer

Crockett Archer is on his way to a interview when a group of bandits stop the train. He can't believe his ears when the main outlaw informs the train car passengers that he's searching for the preacher. How could he possibly know Crockett was on this train?

The outlaw kidnaps Crockett and soon presents him to his daughter Joanna. Crockett soon learns that Joanna has requested a preacher for her birthday. She can't believe though that her father would go to such measures to fill her request. Crockett is determined to escape the thief but soon finds out that Joanna will willingly let him go. She convinces Crockett that her father only kidnapped him out of love for his daughter and that he would never purposely hurt anyone.

Joanna admits why she wanted a preacher in the first place. The church that she loves is run-down and empty, and there is no one to occupy the pulpit. Maybe if she can find a preacher to breath life into the church, then it will have a chance to survive.

Can Joanna convince Crockett to stay and bring the community back to their church? Will Joanna's other prayers be answered in the meantime?

I thought this was a fun little read. An action packed kidnapping, an unexpected love story! What's not to like? Towards the middle of the book, it got to be a little predictable but I expected as much. If you are a fan of historical fiction, this is a nice light read. This is the first book I have read by Karen Witemeyer, but I was not disappointed. I will gladly read any more of her books! I rate this book as 4 stars! :)

I received this book for free from Litfuse to give my honest unbiased opinion.

"Stealing the Preacher" Kindle Fire Giveaway and Author Chat Party (6/18) with Karen Witemeyer!

Karen Witemeyer is "kindling" the excitement for Stealing the Preacher (Bethany House) with a Kindle Fire Giveaway and connecting with readers at her June 18th Facebook Author Chat Party!

  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at 4pm on June 18th. Winner will be announced at the "Stealing the Preacher" Facebook Author Chat Party on June 18th. Connect with Karen for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Karen will also share an exclusive look at her next book and give away books and other fun prizes throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of Stealing the Preacher and join Karen on the evening of June 18th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 18th!