Halfway Done

Every year I choose to do the Tim Challies book challenge and if you want to know what I have been reading here is the list so far. I will put the challenge, the title and a quick note of what I thought about it.

A book published in 2020 or 2021 – Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
This book was weird. I somewhat enjoyed it, but probably will not read another book by this author. If you like fantasy with minimal characters and slow builders, then you may like this book.

A memoir or autobiography – Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
This book was full of quips and ways to live. It has a lot of wisdom in it, but it is worldly wisdom. There was some religious aspects to it, but like all self-help books, they fall short to the wisdom given in the Bible. It’s a good book for older teens.

A classic novel – The Curious Life of Benjamin Button by F. Scott FItzgerald
This was another weird novel. It was somewhat Kafkaish and I didn’t really like it. I liked the Great Gatsby, so I thought this would be a good novel, but I was left feeling confused and wondering why I even started it.

A book by a pastor – Something Needs to Change by David Platt
I recommend this book to all Christians! Phenomenal book about taking our faith seriously and shaking off the clutches of complacent Christianity.

A book about a book of the Bible – Colossians He is Enough by Asheritah Ciuciu
Great devotional book! I recommend reading her!

A book published by Zondervan – Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
The book was informative but I had forgotten that Ravi Zacharias was one of the men Lee interviewed, so the book didn’t sit well with. It also seemed a bit too permissive when it came to sin and grace. Case for Christ was better.

A book the word “gospel” in the title – Another Gospel by Alisa Childers
What a great book on the dangers of what is now called deconstruction. Every Christian needs to read this book. Alisa, also has a youTube channel that I enjoy watching. She is a great theologian.

A book with an image of a person on the cover – Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel
This is the second book to the Wolf Hall series. I love the way this woman writes and I love Tudor historical fiction! If you love this era and historical fiction, you will love this book, bur read Wolf Hall first.

A book about a current social issue – (A)typcial Woman by Abigail Dodds
This was a good book, the author did a good job in describing Biblical womanhood. She used Scripture well and I encourage you to read it if you are a Christian woman.

A book for children or teens – Wingfeather by Andrew Peterson
Loved this book. Adventrure, Pirates. Villans. My kids really enjoyed this book It is a series that we may continue. I read this book aloud to my kids.

A book about theology – Royal Deception: Exposing the KJV Only Conspiracies by Fred Butler
This book was lacking in what I really wanted to know. There is so much about KJV onlyist that I wanted to know about and this book did not provide it. I think James White does a better job.

A book about Christian living – Full by Asheritah Ciuciu
I loved this book! I got in on audio, but bought the actual book after I listened to the audio. I plan on re-reading it this year! If you struggle with food addiction, this is a wonderful book full of the Gospel and freedom!

A book of your choice – The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
I love the way this woman writes. This was a good thriller, mystery book.

A book written by a puritan – Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards
Puritans love their descriptions of hell. I am so glad I am saved and this motivates me to keep giving the Gospel to my loved ones.

A book recommended by a friend – Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
This book is set in occupied France. Great book about the love between sisters and the courage of the people who suffered under the Nazis. This book is long, but it does submerge you into this time.

A book about social justice – Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice by Scott David Allen
Totally recommend if you are Christian wondering what to think about the culture in the US right now.

A novel that won a Pulitzer prize – The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami
This book was actually a runner up to the Pulitzer, but still it was beautifully written. It is about the Spanish conquest of the Americas and their exploits. It is harsh and sad. This book was about a slave of one of the Spaniards, one of only 4 survivors.

A book with 2 or more authors – Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie H. Perry and Nancy DeMoss
The book was good, but not my kind of taste. JHP is very artistic and was a bit too long winded about colors, fashion partying and her relationships. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. When it comes to this particular genre, I prefer Rosaria Butterfield.

A book with at least 400 pages – Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Tudor Historical Fiction again. This book was harder to read than Bring up the Bodies because HM uses the pronoun “he” quiet a bit and sometimes I forget what “he” she is talking about. She does better in her second book. I can’t wait to read the third and final book about Mr. Thomas Cromwell.

A book cy CS Lewis or JRR Tolkien – The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
Must read for all Christians. What a wonderful and smart man is Mr. Lewis. This book is about a “younger” demon learning the ropes from his uncle Screwtape on how to ruin the lives of Christians and people.

A book that has a fruit of the Spirit in the title – Sovereign Joy by John Piper
This book was about the lives of Augustine, Luther and Calvin. I loved reading about them and because of this book I have added Augustine’s “Confessions” to my reading list.

A book on the New York Times Bestseller list – Dream Big by Bob Goff
Like always, this man inspires. This is a good book to get you motivated to dream big and pursue your dreams.

A book about prayer – Dangerous Prayers by Craig Groeschel
This was a good book. I was pleasantly surprised though that I already pray dangerous prayers. If you want to grow in how you pray, this is a good book. I just need to pray more often!

A book about theology – Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Suffers by Dane C. Ortlund
This is by far the best book I have read so far this year. What a breath of restful air this was. This book made me cry and reminded me of what a gentle and loving Father I have in God. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

A book of your choice – Outsider by Stephen King
The book started off really good, but what a cop-out for an ending. I wasn’t too happy with the sci-fi cop out. SK does write well though, but the ending was so disappointing.

A book from a theological viewpoint you disagree with – Recovering from Biblical Womanhood by Aimee Byrd
She has a chip on her shoulder and her illustrations and allegories were awful. I also listened to this book on audio and the author reads it and she sounded a bit to “karen” for my taste. Maybe if I read it instead of listening to it, it may be better.

A book by someone whose ethnicity is different than yours – Fault Lines by Voddie Baucham Jr.
Great book. So needed for our times right now. It is a book about the dangers of critical race theory and social justice.

A book that won an award – Deep, Deep Snow by Brian Freeman
This book won the Edgar Award. It is about a young detective solving a case in a small town. It was a great crime/suspense novel.

A book by Charles Dickens or one of his contemporaries – The Woman in the Black Veil by Charles Dickens
This is one of his first books ever written and what a plot twist. Good short book. It was only like 35 pages long.

A book about leadership – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
There was a lot of insight and great advice in this book. Highly recommend for all people who want to get their life together and do more.

A book based on a true story – Beneath Devil’s Bridge by Loreth Anne White
Good mystery book and great twist at the end.

A book with an illustration on the cover – A Court of Thorns by Sarah J. Maas
This book was a bit too romantic for me. So not my genre at all. If you the Twilight series you will like this. SJM writes extremely well and there were some scenes in the book that were outright scary and frightening, but just not into the romancy parts.

A book with one word in the title – Heaven by Randy Alcorn
Great book about the subject of Heaven. It makes me want to go there already. Death is hard for us to understand, but in the light of the Bible, physical death is what God uses to bring us to Him. Long book, but I definitely recommend.

A book whose title comes from a Bible verse – Filling up the afflictions of Christ by John Piper
Great book on suffering and why we suffer and how God uses our afflictions to make us more like Him. This book is short but very impactful. If you are struggling through a painful time in your life right now, this is a good read. Full of Scripture and grace.

A book by an author 30 years or younger – Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne
This book was great! Its about an FBI agent who happens to also be an ex-magician. The book was fun to read, but also mysterious. Great book for a summer read. Andrew Mayne is also a professional magician.

A book about theology – Knowledge of the Holy by AW Tozer
A good book about why we should not just feel our faith, but know why we believe. It also has a lot to say about the character of God and who He is. Why we should know about the God we worship.

A novel set in a country that is not your own – The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler and Ann Long
This book is set in Sweden and was annoying. The main characters were not very deep and the way they behaved was erratic and odd. I don’t recommend this book, and will not read any more of their novels.

37 books so far!! It is my hope to read 54 books this year and I think I will be able to make it. From now on, I hope to do book reviews on each of the books I read. Let me know what you think and tell me about some of the books you enjoy reading.

Blessings


Doll Bones

I read this book out loud to my children and they loved it! This book is about 3 coming-of-age children – Alice, Zach and Poppy. They are in that awkward stage in their lives when they want to play children games, but feel pressure to stop acting that way. Most of the pressure is place on their own selves and a lack of communication among this trio places them at risk of ending their friendship.

With the encouragement of Poppy they set out on one last adventure to find the gravesite of an old ceramic china bone doll. The thing is super creepy and is said to contain the ashes of a murdered girl with the hollow of her body. The adventure is super fun and exciting and a bit scary. There was never a dull moment.

I truly enjoy reading these kinds of books to my kids. The book has real characters with real problems. They hurt each other feelings, they misunderstand their parents, they feel overwhelmed by the pressures of life. They cry, the yell, they hope and they lose hope. Talking about all these moments is why I love fiction. My kids and I had great talks about so many different things and it was great to hear their perspectives and walk them through better understandings of things.

This book would be perfect for a middle-schooler.

I gave this book 4 stars out of 5 on Goodreads

You can buy the book here.

A Place of Execution

I listened to this book on audio and it was intense!

The book is divided into two parts. One part is set in the 1960’s and the second part is set in the late 1990’s. The book is about a young girl who goes missing in the cold countryside of Scardale in England and the investigation afterwards. The second part of the book is set 30 years later and is about a journalist trying to write a book of what all transpired there. I had no idea what was going on until the very end and I loved every minute of it!

The book is a crime novel and does explain several heinous crimes that exposes the darkness and how evil man can be, but thankfully where it could have been more explicit, it left to the imagination. It still got a bit uncomfortable to read at times. My mind aches to know that these kinds of crimes happen all the time, and now even more with the internet.

As a Christian, I understand that these kinds of books are not for all of us, but this is our world and it is broken. People are depraved and need the saving grace of God. When we opened our home to foster care and then later adoption, my biological children were exposed to this darkness. They now knew things that they would not have known had we not fostered. “Where is their mom and dad?” my 8 year old asked, and the truth shocked her. Never could she have imagined a mom neglecting her children, or a dad in prison because of drugs. Not all parents are nurturing, not all sex is good, not all people are nice. It is not right and we know that, and we will do all we can and fight to be the light in the world until He comes, or we go home. These kinds of books unfold the dark world we live in and helps us safely see the consequences of sin. They bring me to pray, to be observant, to be aware and to be thankful.

I would only allow my adult children to read this book due to the sexual crimes explained in the book and some language.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes dark crime novels and mysteries. You can buy the book here.

I recently found out that there is a TV series based on the book, and I think I may watch it soon. You can watch it with an ACORN TV subscription here.

I gave this book 5 stars out of 5 on my Goodreads.

Born Again This Way

Sometimes it is scary to pick up authors that are unknown, especially when it comes to theology and heated issues like same sex attraction, homosexual identity, and gender roles. Then add upon that the complications of church culture and traditions and you have lots of room for cringy moments. Thankfully, this book had none!

Rachel Gilson was frank and didn’t dilute the Gospel. Her struggle to obey God, her conversion and her testimony are both beautiful and triumphant. Her explanations on the importance of inter-generational friendships was so moving that it has changed my life! I now am looking for ladies much younger and older for me to befriend. I loved this book and how she allowed us to peer into her old life and gloriously bask with her in her saved life.

She also had a lot to say on the idol of romance and love that our generation has fallen into. What a clear call to revisit our faulty thinking of what love is and what marriage should look like! Her voice on the unique importance of singleness was also just as powerful. Using the Bible, she backs up her stance on these subjects and she rightfully dictates the holiness and usefulness of both.

I recommend this book to any Christian wanting to read more about same sex attraction, marriage, and singleness. If you enjoyed Rosaria Butterfield’s books, you will enjoy this one. If you struggle with same sex attraction or someone you love does or just want to understand more, this book is full of hope for all because it is full of the Gospel.

I 5-starred this book on my Goodreads.

You can buy this book here.

Prayer

Prayer is usually one of those practices that most Christians need to do more often. I know I do! It’s like trying a new diet, you get excited, you’re motivated, you write out little post it notes with words of encouragement, and three weeks later you’re binge watching Netflix while eating a bag of Doritos! Fortunately, there were some pragmatic points I think will stick with me. Here is what I underlined in the book and I hope it blesses you:

“King David learns that prayer is more about “will you? Won’t you?” than “when will you?” pg. 36

“Prayers are measured by their strength and not their length.”pg. 37

“Prayer begins with longing for God’s presence before his provision.” pg. 55

“Peace with God always comes through pardon and forgiveness, never performance.” pg. 58

In the Garden of Gethsemane while Jesus is praying and Peter, James and John are with him – “As Jesus brought the so-called strongest with Him, he didn’t share profound words of wisdom. He shared His weakness.” pg 68

“There is no smaller package than a man wrapped up in himself.” pg. 111

This is a short, small and on-point book. I did feel there was a small jab at the founding fathers, but nothing that I couldn’t read over. It was condescending and in bad taste and full of presupposition. Overall, the book was informative and good.

I struggle with prayer. It is my heart’s desire to cultivate prayer in my life. In a way the quote “Prayers are measured by their strength and not their length” freed me of this expectation that the longer the prayer, the holier it is. I am grateful for that quote and I will treasure it. I want to experience God in prayer and rely on Scripture to guide me to know Him more. Mr. Onwuchekwa does well in removing my legalistic approach to prayer. He also emphasizes the importance of communal prayer.

The book served its purpose and I recommend it to all Believers who want to sharpen their prayer life, especially prayer with other Believers.

You can buy the book here.

Amazing Grace : William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery

This is the second biography that I have read that was written by Eric Metaxas. The first one being on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Reading about the life of William Wilberforce has changed me. There is no way it couldn’t. What this man did with the time God gave him on this earth is just short of miraculous. His convictions changed a whole culture and catapulted British society into an age of providing human dignity for the poor, the less fortunate and of course, the slave. There were so many involved in his life-long campaign to end slavery and I hope I get the opportunity to read up on all of them.

Mr. Metaxas has a beautiful way of revealing the intangible life of Wilberforce but at the same time bringing him down to a level where I can almost touch him. It is an encouraging book of a man who just lived out his faith. Like the biography of Hannah More, these Believers just experienced their faith. They were not side liners or bench warmers, they truly believed what God’s Word says and did it. I couldn’t help but think of my life and what exactly am I experiencing in my faith. What kind of Christianity am I living out?

Wilberforce had long walks with God and brought along his Bible to read. He went against British society and regarded all men to be image bearers and worthy of dignity. He went against the mold and fought against animal cruelty. He thought all children – including poor ones – should be educated and taught to read, write and math. He believed that Christianity was not just nominal, but a way of life that transformed character and changed desires. He spoke up for the weak, the oppressed, the voiceless and the destitute. What a man! In his life time he was part of abolishing the slave trade, enacting laws against animal cruelty, and bringing about the emancipation of the slaves. He also endeavored to encourage Christians to act out their faith and brought about reform in this area. He gave a wealth to different charities and ministries. And as his life came close to an end, he only regretted not being able to do more!

I highly recommend this book to all Believers. It is my hope that it encourages you to live your life fully for our Lord. To be anxious for nothing and love those God has placed in your life. To fear nothing, and fight the good fight that is so many times against our selves. To live on purpose and with focus on the Kingdom and His people. I believe I spend too much time scrolling on my phone when there is really so much to do. May God grant me the ability to be aware that my time here is but a vapor, and that I may be His vessel to be used as He wishes!

You can buy the book here.

13 Reasons Why I Hate This Book

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is a book about a teenager who commits suicide. Her name is Hannah. Before her death, she makes these tapes outing all those whom she blames for causing her to commit suicide. She mails out the tapes to the first person she blames and kills herself soon afterwards by taking pills. The story is told between Hannah and Clay – one of the persons on the tapes.

I truly wanted this book to help me delve into the minds of teens. I have 3 teenagers myself and was hoping for some insight. The whole time I was reading this I was thinking that Hannah was everything I hope my daughters never become. She is shallow, a bully, and a hypocrite. And in the end, I saw her death more as a tantrum than a virtuous cause. The summation of all the reasons she gave to justify her suicide didn’t add up for me.

Reason 1: Hannah and Clay place the blame on a rational counselor.
All the adults in Hannah’s life were in the backdrop and those that were actually good to her, she deems as unimportant. If she would have focused on building those relationships instead of seeing just how awful the other ones are, this would be a different story.

Reason 2: Hannah acts as if all her problems started with her first kiss. Hannah, you had problems before that, we all do.

Reason 3: Hannah has low self-esteem when she knows she’s pretty! UGH! False low self-esteem is so unbecoming of a young lady. You know those girls who put selfies up and then bait people by saying something like: “I know no thinks I’m pretty but that’s okay”.

Reason 4: Hannah goes SEVERAL TIMES to sleazy parties where people are getting drunk, high and having teen sex AND she expects to be treated like a lady by horny teenage boys. Her contempt is laughable.

Reason 5: She knows the guy could be bad news, but hopes for the best. Her judgement is lacking, and that’s fine an all, but goodness me blame yourself a little for being such an idiot!

Reason 6: The virtue signaling is strong with this one!

Reason 7: Hannah makes fun of people’s looks and judges their outer appearance throughout the whole book. I honestly don’t mind it except for the fact that one of the flipping reasons she kills herself is because people make fun of her!

Reason 8: You throw fits when someone doesn’t notice your haircut or when you are not complimented. Did I tell you she’s shallow?

Reason 9: She constantly places herself in situations where there is so much potential for emotional pain. True other people can be stupid, but you can’t totally blame others when you participate in the stupidity itself! For example, for Valentine’s day a survey is done for a potential Valentine. It’s a fundraiser. The survey then matches you to other people. It’s like a dating game. You get 5 names and their phone numbers. In my mind I was hoping she wouldn’t participate because Hannah is so sensitive, but of course she does and ends up being stood up by her date. He later shows up though an inflicts more emotional pain to her. Again, you know it’s stupid. And boys are stupid! And you’re stupid.

Reason 10: Teenage dating is so annoying. This is why I forbid my children to date in high school. I rather have me be the reason why they are pissed and crying, than have it be a teenaged idiot! They’re going to end up pissed and crying anyways, might as well be me. I come with a lot less baggage.

Reason 11: She hates those who didn’t protect her from the advances of others. I get that, but she herself failed to protect a girl that was getting raped! Can you be anymore of a hypocrite Hannah! A guy tries to kiss you and you feel trapped. He doesn’t get to kiss you because you push him off and he leaves angry. Another guy who saw this happen doesn’t come to your aid. And you add BOTH these boys to your list. BUT THEN, a girl is left on a bed drunk asleep at one of those sleazy parties you like going to, and as you hide in the closet and see her get raped, YOU DO NOTHING. There was no potential danger to you at all. And I would understand if you were too scared to stop it. But my understanding goes out the window when you blame others for being too scared to have stopped what happens to you.

Reason 12: You actually had a nice guy and nice friends. You say this towards the end of the book. Why didn’t you hang out with them more. Why didn’t you build on those relationships. Instead you knowingly cultivate relationships with toxic people, hoping for the best. Don’t blame others for your decisions. You actively sought out the scum of that school, and now are upset because you feel dirty.

Reason 13: You passive-aggresively tell the drunk-passed-out girl she was raped! Not in person, not the day after! But on the tapes when you are dead! This girl didnt know what had happened to her because of her state of mind, so you decide to tell her this way, and for others to know about it! What a jerk! Now she has no way of preserving any physical evidence of what happened to her!

There were so many more reasons, but I chose to do 13 for poetic effect.

I hope my daughters never act like Hannah, and if they do, I hope they are woman enough to face the consequences of their decisions. Hannah played the victim in her life and blamed others for how she felt. This book is awful and it saddens me that there are so many teens reading this mess. There is a NETFLIX series based on this book and I am afraid of watching it because if it is anything like this book, these girls we love are doomed. From what I hear these kids are eating this stuff up like candy!

There were several instances where Hannah could have corrected what was done to her, but she chose not to. She was sanctimoniously so brave on those tapes though! But when actual wrongs were done to her, no one owned up the consequences because she refused to do anything about it. And I get confrontation is difficult, but people – especially teenagers – cannot read your mind. And blaming them posthumously is not fair at all.

I can’t help but wonder if this is what post-feminism has cultivated into our girls. You can act and be however you want, and in the end, its everyone else’s fault how they treat you. May it not be so for the young women God has placed in my life. Our actions and desires have consequences. We must renew our mind and remember that our worth does not come from what the world says about us or what we say about ourselves, but what God says about us. That we are NOTHING if we don’t have Him. How’s that for self-esteem? That is what I teach my girls. So when Satan tempts them to despair about their looks, or their intelligence or their worth. So when Satan manipulates their minds. So when their negative feelings are so strong that they become real to them. THEY DO NOT LOOK TO THEMSELVES, but to CHRIST who has made them worthy, not because of what they do or think, but because of what He did for them.

I know that suicide in young people is a real thing. Most people who do commit suicide though have struggled with mental disorders for years. Others have faced such trauma that they see no other way out of their pain. This is why Hannah’s 13 reasons seem just so shallow to me. Hannah was not healthy or a typical teenager if these are the reasons she killed herself. And that’s my fear when these kids read this mess. Not one time was there a hint of a mental disorder she was battling, and that’s the danger of this false narrative. Hannah was not normal. She was not typical and I fear a lot of girls will identify some of themselves in her or make her out to be some heroine. If Hannah did not have a mental disorder, she is NOT a heroine or a champion for the oppressed. If she did, the author should have inserted a snippet of that part of her life, but I think the author intentionally made Hannah to be a normal kid. What an awful thing to do Mr. Asher since over 90% of people who do kill themselves have been diagnosed with a mental disorder and the others were due to major emotional trauma – like a sudden death in the family, an exposed dark secret or financial ruin.

I do not recommend this book unless you want to use it for kindling.

#13reasonswhy #ihatethisbook #awful #dosomethingelse

Literary Christians

After the disappointment that was The Boy, it was nice to read this detective/thriller novel.

Nine Elms is a book about the disgraced Kate Marshall. As a young police officer, Kate has the drive and ambition to climb the professional ladder at her workplace, but soon that changes after a life altering affair. Now, 15 years later, she must face the demons of her past again.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The first couple of chapters gripped me and then never let go. The characters are very well developed. The story is a bit dark and gritty, but if you are a fan of Karin Slaughter, you will love this book. The book does have cuss words and gory scenes. The villains in the book are sick and depraved and Mr. Bryndza does a superb job in capturing their twisted nature. The book’s darkness also encompasses sex and this adds another layer of just how degenerate the villains are. There is also cannibalism involved. Did I mention the book is dark?

As a Christian, I am not oblivious to the depravity of the human heart and mind. Verse after verse speaks about how quickly and naturally we resort to evil behavior. Without God, there is no hope for us. This is what I get from reading books like this. It provides a window into the world that, if I am not careful, can become invisible in my sweet little Christian life. I was depraved, but God saved me. I heard the call and I became a child of God. There is no hope besides Him. The world, in all its darkness, needs the light. I appreciate authors that lead us into these black hearts and minds. It gives Christians more to be Christians with. Here is a great article that makes the case for the need for Christians to read works of fiction.

I am looking forward to the second book featuring Kate Marshall in “Shadow Sands.” This book is set to hit shelves in the U.S. in November.

#nineelms #cannibal #thriller #killer #katemarshall #robertbryndza

The Boy – No thanks

Look, I get that not all Christians are perfect and that all of us struggle with hypocrisy, but so do atheists, so do agnostics and so do the “cool” protagonists in books.

I have never read Tami Hoag before and reading this book I can tell that she is a great writer. I love it when books draw the reader in and an hour can pass by without you even knowing it! Mrs. Hoag is this type of writer, but the way she portrayed any Believer in her book was like a punch to the kidneys. The sleazy adulterer is a beloved Christian leader, the snobby sheriff’s fiance is a gossipy Christian woman who is a push-over. The devout Christian parents abandon their daughter in her hour of need. Not one of the faithful helped, loved or was kind to any person in the book. Not one! I know I shouldn’t expect much from the world, but goodness me. At least in some books there is a tiny smidgen of kindness from a Christian. Some books don’t mention Christians at all and that’s fine by me also. To top it all off though, all the protagonists that Mrs. Hoag develops in a glowing light are atheist who shake their tiny fist at God. They constantly point out the hypocrisy in Christians – never seeing their own, and blame God for everything.

All this said, the book is very well written, but I will not be reading her again. She is obviously biased in her writing and I was offended at how Christians were personified. I know we are not perfect, knowing our imperfection is what helps us rely on Christ’s work not ours, but the jabs towards Christians was more than I wanted to take. I also am not an easily offended reader, but unfortunately for me Mrs. Hoag took her level of prejudice for Christians to a height I didn’t want to experience. It seemed forced on some of the characters and jolted the believeability of those specific characters. The obvious contrast between the villains and the heroes was plain to see that if the character was a villain, he had Christian roots or sayings and if character was a hero, they mocked God.

No thanks Mrs. Hoag. But if you like dark murder mysteries,and don’t mind stereotypical prejudice against Christians, then you will like this book. Personally, I didn’t.

What can I learn from this? I realize that there is artistic license in all works of fiction, but I don’t have to like it. I also realize that authors put a little of themselves into their work, but I don’t have to buy those works. That’s the beauty of a free opinion, and this is mine. We as Christians, do need to work on our testimony. We fail all the time to portray the grace to others that was so freely given to us by Jesus. I don’t know one Christian who doesn’t struggle with their sin and who has a tendency to hide those struggles leading many to think of us as hypocrites. Let us live godly lives, constantly being aware of our testimony because the world is watching us.

I encourage you with these verses found in Titus 2:8-9 – In everything, show yourself to be an example by doing good works. In your teaching show integrity, dignity and wholesome speech that is above reproach, so that anyone who opposes us will be ashamed to have nothing bad to say about us.

Real life is better than fiction

History dramatized in historical fiction is so entertaining.  So many times it is better than fiction!

I love the era of the Tudors and the War of the Roses, it is full of intrigue, beauty and so much drama. The lives of these kings and queens is unbelievable sometimes. Some authors do so well in bringing us back to those times and immersing us into the lives of these extraordinary people. Two of my most favorite authors are Phillipa Gregory and Bernard Cornwell, but I have another favorite, Maurice Druon.

I have really enjoyed the first 2 books of the series of the Accursed Kings, and highly recommend the books to any lover of historical fiction.The iron king & The strangled queen This series follows the reign of Phillip the Fair, King of France. The king is ridding himself of the Knights Templar by way of torture and gruesome deaths through burning at the stake. Then a prophecy is proclaimed from the burnt mouth of the Grand Master of the Templar before he dies and everything changes for the worse for the Iron King of France. Soon, the kingdom is shaken by the treasonous lives of the King’s son’s wives and chaos presumes.

The second book speaks about the daughter of the Iron King and the adulterous wife of his son. If you remember the beautiful French queen in Braveheart, well that’s the daughter of Phillip the Fair. This book continues the line of the Iron King and is full of so much betrayal, death and torture!

Happy endings are nice and all, but in real life sometimes there are no happy endings.  Main characters die, beautiful princesses and queens don’t find true love, powerful kings fail and innocents are wrongly executed. This is probably why I enjoy historical fiction because I get an incredible story and I may not know how the story ends, or I may not like how it ends.  That’s totally okay with me.

To the Christian, this series gives us a glimpse of the history of the church. In the 1300’s the Catholic Church wielded a lot of political power. There was a lot of corruption and most of Europe was Christian. It was a dark time in Europe. Only a select few could read His Word and whatever a bishop or priest said became what the people believed. It is a very sad time in our history. There were voices, though, in that time, crying out in the wilderness. Very few voices, but God’s Church prevailed. These were the dark ages and soon the black plague would wipe out almost half of them.

I highly recommend these two books if you enjoy historical fiction. I am looking forward in reading the whole series and have them on my summer reading list. If you would like to buy the books, click here.

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