Friday, December 30, 2011

Book Challenge and Book Reviews #11 {December}


This is it...this marks the 12th and last month of the 2011 book challenge! :( *sniff* I'm so sad to see it go...but I'm excited to say I have decided to continue and join the 2012 challenge!! :D

~ Some of you have mentioned how much you've enjoyed the book reviews each month and reading these posts as I continued my journey towards my goal and that has been such a blessing to me! Thank you for joining me and for your encouragements and prayers along the way - they meant so much and greatly helped in accomplishing my goals each month! :) You are the dearest of friends! ~

Through doing this challenge, a friend and even my sister Jessica have been thinking about doing this same challenge along with me in 2012 {please say yes!!!}. :D I'd like to invite all of you to join as well...I had so much fun and enjoyed reading through a variety of new books and it felt wonderful to be accomplishing goals every month (even though some of the time it was very difficult to do so!).

So, I had one more difficult month in getting my goal accomplished. I got sick...again (story of my life it seems...) and just before the Christmas play we were in too! It was awful. It was only a cold but it kept me out of commission so that I could rest up before the play! :( Only by the grace of God was I even better to perform in the play. I had not the desire or health to even read my books... So I was not even able to read very much at all until this very last 2 weeks of Dec.! AAACCKKKK!!! :O I had a lovely thick book all chosen but it had to be put aside for a much smaller book on my reading list so I could attain my book goal for the month (and there is no shame to be had in that, my friends). It shall be continued in the next year instead. ;)

But despite all the difficulties God helped me to stick to it and complete my goal for the month...meaning I have read over my 24 books goal for 2011!!!!! :D {****31*** to be exact!}
That in and of itself deserves it's own little post so I'll write up another one later today with the running list of this year's books, finishing thoughts and what my favorites were. ;)

{This first review will be the longer of the two as there was just so much I wanted to share about this wonderful find!} :)

Glaucia The Greek Slave:
A Tale of Athens in the First Century

Emma Leslie

"...the gods of Rome could not satisfy the sore hunger of my heart, and the philosophy of Greece was but as husks instead of bread." (p.239)

This was by far one of the best books I have read in a long time! It began slowly and I thought perhaps it would be another one of the "dull" ones I've read this year...but goodness was I wrong! It is one of the most encouraging and spiritually strengthening/uplifting books I've *EVER* read (truly)!! :D More so even then some of the missionary books I've read! Somehow it just got through to heart and mind... of how important it can be to share your faith with others and how strong a personal testimony (and prayer for the salvation of others) can be! This also is one of only a few early church books I've read - I've not read many if any at all that I can recall!

The tale begins with two siblings, boy and girl, who come under difficult circumstances and end up being sold as slaves in the ancient times of Greece and Rome when Paul was teaching and under arrest. They are torn from each other to serve separate master's, far from one another, with no hope to see them again. Through amazing circumstances, that in a real-life situation could only be God-ordained, they both come to a knowledge and saving grace of God and follower's in His "new church". :D

"This God whom Paul came to make known to men is the Almighty God, who made heaven and earth and all men dwelling upon it. He hath not only made them, but redeemed them from sin and the power of evil by the death of His only Son, Jesus Christ the Lord." (p.86)

I was completely inspired by this book! Oh, what a joy to read a tale of the early Christians...their daring faith and courage and full trust in the One True God Almighty!

"He is the God of the Gentile as well as the Jew, the only true Almighty, Eternal, Ever-present God, the Great One not to be equaled or approached by anything calling itself god in heaven above or in the earth beneath." (p.75)

""Where is the temple of thy God...."
"He needeth no temple, for the heaven is His throne and the earth is His footstool, and there is no God but Him."" (p. ?)

Along the way both brother and sister are challenged by physical and spiritual dangers. The story of how people like them face difficulties and stand up for their faith in a country that worships another god will have you cheering and inspired to share your faith with everyone around you! :D

The people in this time struggled greatly with idol worship. They had a god for just about any reason you could wish one for! Farmer's worshiped gods who would help their crops to grow, when you had a sick family member/friend you went to a god who could heal, and if you were a sea-faring man well there's a god for that too! The gods were something to be feared and not ones whom you would ever go against or anger! Which is why it's so amazing when you reflect on the great God we serve who thinks more of us than He does of Himself! :D

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." ~ Psalm 51:17

"How strange...these people worshiped a God who, unlike Jupiter and the rest of the Olympian deities, took care of His worshipers, noting even their smallest acts, instead of being taken up with His own pleasure and amusement." (p.137)

The story is set in Ancient Greece and Rome in the time of Emperor Nero, before the burning of Rome. And woven through this tale are both historical and biblical accounts from our past. Nero was awful to this "new sect" of people known as Christians - torturing them and many others in sport along side his gladiators or his arena's, etc. :( Nero had a "cruel, ruthless disregard for the value of human life." But I am thankful to say that this book can be read by young children because the details of such horrific sites as must have gone on in this time have been kept to a minimum and are not very gruesome at least in description.

A few more quotes and thoughts:
"Nay, nay, but [Paul] is a messenger from God - the only true God, who made the sea and stars as well as the dry land. Shipmates, we need a God such as this man came to declare - one who needeth not statue or temple for His worship; for what can sailors do with either? We need a God who is at hand when the wild wind lashes the waves into fury - a God who holds the wind in His fists and the waters in the hallow of His hand." (p.86)

~ I just have to say I loved this part. :) To be reminded of the great and mighty God that I serve just made my heart soar! :D Life has thrown so many curve balls in the last 2 years that I forget too often how BIG and powerful He is! Even the waves obey His voice...then how should I be afraid? :)

"But his companion shook his head. "Shipmates, ye that are fathers and know what it is to love your children, would ye be content with any but the first place in their hearts? Would it please ye to see them hug the gifts ye took home, but turn from thee the giver? It is just so with our great Father. We are His children, whether we know it or not; and He desires our love and worship, and will not give it to another." (p.88)
~ Wow. What an example! I had never though of it in this way. I only wished I had been explained it in this way when I was a little girl it would have made things so much clearer! :D This is an excellent book to read especially with, or for young ones to read (recommended for ages 10+)! :D It really gives you a grasp on so many doctrinal issues in easy-to-understand words. :) A wonderful way to bring up discussion as a family!

"What is thy wealth to One who has created and owns all this world, as well as the brilliant stars in the heavens. Eternal life is God's *FREE GIFT* to rich and poor alike. All who enter heaven must lay down their pride on this side of the gate, and walk lowly, as little children." (p.237)

"Yes, He is infinite, and therefore He can satisfy the wants of every heart, diverse as it may be. This is beyond our comprehension, and therefore man has made a host of gods, that each may worship the one answering best to his needs. One who longs for wisdom and knowledge bows to Pallas Athene; Jupiter claims the votary of power; Apollo the lover of music, poetry, and science; but the wants of all are met in the fullness of God our Creator.

His heart is as the ocean, boundless; illimitable in power, purity, and love.
" (p.236)
-- can I get an "AMEN" on that one! :D

"...these mourners were sorrowing without hope, for the world beyond the grave was a dark, unknown mystery to them...grieving with a grief that we can never know, since we have the hope of meeting our beloved ones beyond the grave." (p. 242-243)
~ praise God who gives us hope for the future! I have seen and felt the sorrow of what death can do in a family and to have the words to speak comfort that we will see our loved ones in Christ again one day...what a blessed joy that brings to my soul! :D Oh, what a good and loving gracious God we serve!!
"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." ~ Revelation 1:18

So, the conclusion is this: READ THIS BOOK EVERYONE!!!! ;) Lol! I mean it too! By the end I wanted to take a highlighter to it (something I never do!).

This book receives: 5 out of 5 stars!!! *****

Away Goes Sally
by Elizabeth Coatsworth

Set in a time just a little before the War of 1812, this endearing short little book was just the thing to end 2011 on! :) I loved it! The characters were bright and simple, the story was intriguing, and the overall appeal made you want to curl up with a blanket and hot chocolate and read it to a group of little ones! ;)

This tale is of a young girl living with 3 aunts and 2 uncles (all siblings!). It's quite a house-full! Sally's days are filled with activity like taking meals to her uncle's in the field and helping her aunts to spin wool! But everything gets turned around when her uncle's cousin sends a letter telling of the exciting and prosperous land to be had in the rugged state of Maine! Aunt Nannie and Uncle Ephraim are at odds again - who will win? Will they stay as Aunt Nannie wishes or will Uncle Ephraim win out and they all pack up and move to Maine? Well I'm not going to tell'll just have to read that for yourself! ;) *giggles*

""It's like this Sally," he said. "Your Aunt Nannie is not one to be driven, and she's not one to be led either. She knows now it would be best for us all to go, but she would rather die than go back on her spoken word. But how is she to give in? I think I see a way," and he smiled to himself again."

My Thoughts:
I loved this little book! It's only 118 pages so it wont' take very long to get through. It's just the thing when you just want a sweet little story. At the end of each chapter, there's a cute little poem having to do with something said in the story. :) Charming! There are 5 books in the series and by the looks of it it takes you through her growing up years...each book Sally is a bit older. :) I already have book 2 ready to begin reading!

The only problem I had with this book is that they put in a witch. :( I know it was something believed in at that time (okay, possibly still today)...but I didn't think it was necessary at all to the story and I wish they'd just left it out. Having her in there didn't add to the plot at all and it wasn't important to the story - more of a side trip, really. Thankfully though it wasn't *too* bad. She didn't do any "magic spells" or make up potions for them. She was just a bit creepy (but not probably something that would scare little ones) and it didn't last for more than a couple pages. That's the good part about it. It would be up to you and your family's discretion whether to read this or not, but I think it would not be a bad read on the whole for most family's as other than that small section it was perfectly lovely and not something that would be likely to trouble the hearts and minds of small children (t'would be a good thing to bring up in a family discussion on your faith and beliefs!)! :) The rest of the book more than satisfied my "momma bear" type "A" personality with it's charm just right for young girls and just sweet enough for us older gals. ;) It was such a fun story...taking me back to memories of our mother reading the Little House on the Prairie books!

"[Sally] was old enough to reel the yarn that would be knitted into stockings during the long winter evenings. Forty yards to a reel - she measured it with a sort of song, beating out the time:

"There's one,
There ain't one,
There will be one,
by 'n' by --"

This book receives: 4-1/2 out of 5 stars (only because of the witch in the story, or it would have been 5). ;)

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I had forgotten to tell you all as I went, but I've been linking up here on the Book Challenge Host Blog & here on my friend Tarissa's blog for her "Sharing our Bookshelves" blog hop (more than book reviews you can share just about anything book-related such as quotes from books, lists of books, etc.!) through the past months. :)

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Stop by later this afternoon for the full year's review of the book challenge!! :D
God bless!


Tarissa said...

After reading your December reviews, Rachel, I'm greatly intrigued with "Glaucia The Greek Slave". If I could find it available somewhere, I'd like to read it myself.

I have really enjoyed all your book reviews at the end of every month. And I'm super happy that you'll be doing it again for the new year!!

Me said...

Great reviews Rachel! You should put your reviews every month in the church paper so more people can benefit from them :-)