Thursday, May 3, 2012

Book Challenge 2012: April Reviews


Hello my friends and reader's! :) I have some interesting book reviews for you this month! One I greatly enjoyed the other I had some mixed feelings about, as you will see. So far I've read 12 books - that's halfway to my goal (24) in only 4 months! That is a great blessing as I was really hoping to read more books this year, since my goal was the same for last year. God is so good!

by Michael Card

My sweet sister found this book on a cart outside of our newly "renovated" church library - they were giving away books! ;D Yippee!! I wasn't paying too much attention to what Jessica was looking at when suddenly she hands me this book. Once I saw the title and who it was about I snatched it up! Right now we over at Meditations of His Love devotional blog are working on memorizing and posting from the book of 1 Peter and I've been wanting something to enhance my learning as we go along to help me to grow spiritually as I work on memorizing this book of the Bible. :) This was PERFECT!

"A Fragile Stone speaks to wobbly disciples who never seem to get it all together and to naive leaders who think they have."
(p.9 - forward by Brennan Manning, author of "A Glimpse of Jesus")

"The Rock indeed (Peter) was... Certainly there was something solid in him, but it was Jesus' doing. And yes, he was like you and me and again he was not. He stumbled, to be sure, lost his temper, and said no to Jesus just as you and I do. But at the same time, he was completely unique by virtue of the call that had been placed on his life." (p. 13)

This book is a nice easy read, written by award-winning musician and performing artist Michael Card - this is the first book I've read by him and I just love his writing style! {I like some of his music, too, in fact! ;) Hehe.}. You will not find any hard-headed doctrinal or theological debates, only a new perspective at the man who was Jesus closest friend here on this earth. As Mr. Card wrote in his book, "The ultimate reason for getting to know Peter is so together we might better know Jesus. For the story of Peter is the story of Jesus. Perhaps if you and I do our best, the same will be said of us someday." (p. 23)

I loved getting this fresh perspective of the life of Peter, a sort of "thought and feeling" behind what is written about him in the Bible so we can understand his character more and by getting to know him, understand our Lord even more. :) "A Fragile Stone" is an excellent read and I'd recommend it to all! And this book is great for all ages and for both men and women - so read it and pass it on! {I plan to!}

More Quotes I loved:
"We too can be either a living stone or a stumbling block. And the awful truth is that we can sometimes be both at once." (p. 70)

"The true test of discipleship is following Jesus not when the crowd is along for the ride but following him when no one else sees any sense in following him at all." (.67)

"If you are the sort of person who usually reads books like this, you would no doubt confess that Jesus is your friend. If that is true, then my question is, "How does He define you?" (p.66) My prayer is that He would define me in all things and all area's. I want other's to see Christ in me.

"Friends help each other understand who the other is. They define one another over the course of a lifetime." (p.58) ~ Ah, *sigh* what a beautiful thought! I look forward to moments like this with my sister's-in-Christ just as I've had over these last few years of blogging. :D

And my favorite part, the story of Peter walking on water: "The lesson is that Peter needed to sink in order to take the next step of faith in Jesus. Because walking on the water does not ultimately increase our faith, only sinking does!" (p.53)

R.M. Ballantyne

I quite thoroughly enjoyed the last two books by Ballantyne, "Fighting the Flames" and "Post Haste" so I was looking forward to this, shorter, book of his. The tale is told during the time of the Scottish Covenanter's in the early 1600's. If you've followed my book reviews this year, you will note that the Douglas Bond Covenant and Crown books are on this same subject. But, where I enjoyed those, this book was much more difficult to decide if I liked it or not.

"At the time of which we write Scotland had for many years been in a woeful plight - with tyranny draining her life-blood, cupidity grasping her wealth, hypocrisy and bigotry misconstruing her motives and falsifying her character. Charles II filled the throne. Unprincipled men, alike in Church and State, made use of their position and power to fain their own ends and enslaved the people." (p.22)

"The people - holding that in some matters it is incumbent to 'obey God rather than men,' and that they were bound 'not to forsake the assembling of themselves together' - resolved to set the intolerable law at defiance, and went armed to the hill-meetings"; (p.22-23). These were men "ready to lay down their lives in defence of religious liberty"; (p.46).

"Charles the Second, who was indolent, incapable and entirely given over to self-indulgence, handed over the affairs of Scotland to an unprincipled cabal of laymen and churchman, who may be fittingly described as drunken libertines...those about him took good care that he should not be approached or enlightened as to the true state of affairs in Scotland." (p.108-109)

Pros: Ballantyne was *much* more clear as to the events going on in this time period than other books I've read thus far on this topic and he gave very accurate accounts which I found to be most helpful.

What I also love about this period in time, and it was made quite clear, in Hunted and Harried, is the lack of a feeling of "vengeance" and hatred towards their persecutors. That is a rare thing and something to take note of! It is to be greatly admired in such a time of persecution. And it has been an excellent lesson to me in forbearance and in forgiveness.

"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." ~ Romans 12:19

"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" ~ Matthew 5:44

Cons: The author was very blunt many a time as to the method of torture and martyrdom used. So much so, that a couple times near the end I skimmed quickly through as I just couldn't read any more of such violence's done to these poor people. :( Though I know these things happened, still that does not make the reading and knowing of them any easier... I would compare this time period to that of ones such as the early Christian church and the time of the disciples, and to that of the Jews in the Holocaust. It truly was a horrible and sad time in Scottish history and in Christian history. But, as Ballantyne said, "It is a marvelous record of the power of God" and we can be thankful that all these times are in His hands.

"And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?" ~ Luke 18:7

One more thing, though I can't be sure if it's a pro or a con *wink* was the very fluent "Scottish brogue" throughout the book. ;) Haha! It's quite a thick accent that was "spoken" and even I had trouble reading it (trying to hear a Scottish accent in your head while at the same time reasoning out theological and political matters is not easy!). :D It was quite entertaining and one of my favorite parts of the book!

I gave this book 3 stars only because the violence of the historical accounts was so terrible (otherwise it gets a 5 star rating for historical accuracy and for being so well-written as far as that goes).

*I do not recommend this book to all, especially not to young children. And I will not be reading this book very often, maybe once more in my lifetime if that. The basic fiction of the story, what little there seemed to be between all the historical accounts, was good, but the topic is so dark and sad that I couldn't bare to read it much.

Some Quotes:
"Between 1661...and 1668...there were murdered for the cause of Christ and Christian liberty about 18,000 noble men and women..." (p.249)

"As far as things temporal are concerned, the records of the Scottish Covenanters prove incontestably that those long-tried men and women submitted with unexampled patience for full eight-and-twenty years to the spoiling of their goods and the ruin of their prospects; but when it came to be a question of submission to the capricious will of the King or loyalty to Jesus Christ, thousands of them chose the latter alternative, and many hundreds sealed their testimony with their blood." (p.136)

"The great revolution of 1668, which set William and Mary on the throne, also banished the tyrannical and despotic house of Stuart for ever; opened the prison gates to the Covenanters; restored to some extent the reign of justice and mercy; crushed, if it did not kill, the heads of Popery and absolute power, and sent a great wave of praise and thanksgiving over the whole land. Prelacy was no longer forced upon Scotland. The rights and liberties of the people were secured, and the day had at last come which crowned the struggles and sufferings of half a century." (p.246-247)


Thank you for stopping by and I hope you've enjoyed these reviews! :)
For next month I should have a nice book on Esther ready for you {so far it's been excellent and encouraging!}

So, what are YOU reading lately? ;D

God bless!


Tarissa said...

Such wonderful books you tell about. I always enjoy your monthly reviews, Rachel. This book about Peter sounds very interesting to me, and I would like to see if my library has this book. I liked the quote you shared that says "Peter needed to sink"... that is very profound! And I think all of us need a time like that, so that we can trust the Lord more fully and better than we did before.

I've been wanting to read some more Ballantyne books myself (I've only read one of them, but it was soo good!) -- After reading your review, I probably won't be reading "Hunted and Harried" next... but at some point, I probably will get to it. By the way, in my opinion, the "Scottish brogue" is a good thing! (heeheehee!) I quite enjoy reading books like that.

You asked what everyone else is reading. So: I'm almost to the end of 'Little Women'... my second time of reading it & I think I'm taking delight in it even more on this second go-around! It's the first book I'm reading this summer for the Louisa May Alcott challenge I have just started on my blog. Already can't wait for the next book!

Well... ta-ta! I'll be back soon.
~ Tarissa
{ In the Bookcase }

Rachel said...

Thank you so much Tarissa! :D That means a lot to me. I enjoy your stopping by (I love getting reactions and knowing what you think you'd like to read in future. ;) Hehe.)

I greatly hope you can find the Peter book in your library...if not let me know. ;) Yes, I thought it was quite profound as well and it's continued to stick in my mind.

Oh great! Yes if you want to read Ballantyne I'd recommend Fighting the Flames and Post Haste - both were 5 star ratings and I loved them and plan to read them again! :D Oh I agree and Scottish is soo entertaining...but It was quite thick in this book plus I wanted to make sure my reader's knew got a good review of the book. ;) Hehe.

Aww, that is special that you are enjoying Little Women even more so now! It's such a treasured classic book isn't it? *happy sigh* I'm sorry I have not stopped by YOUR blog lately. I've meant to and shall do so soon. :) {hugs}

Love in Christ my friend!

Tarissa said...

Hi Rachel,
Thanks for your comments this morning! It is such a delight to find sweet messages awaiting me when I first get online!

Thanks for your recommendations on the Ballantyne books. I wrote those 2 down on my list of books I want to read, so I won't forget them. And yes... Little Women is quite wonderful. I love it now more than ever!

Well, I must go read some other new things on your blog now & catch myself up...
~ Tarissa

Rachel said...

You are quite welcome! I hope to be able to keep it up and leave you more happy messages! ;) {hugs}

Sounds great!