January 29, 2016

5 books on my future reading list

The Accidental Feminist 

As a Christian, I long to be a woman of God. What does this mean? Should a Godly woman stand up for her rights? Where does feminism come in when serving God, or does it at all?

This book looks very encouraging and I'm looking forward to reading it soon.

Goodreads says of it here:

"Many Christian women wouldn't identify themselves as "feminists." However, according to Courtney Reissig, we've all been influenced by the feminist movement in profound ways, unconsciously reflecting our culture's notions about what it means to be a woman. 

Helping readers navigate a wise path in the midst of a confused world, this book chronicles the journey of a wife, mom, and successful writer as she recounts her journey from "accidental feminism" to a biblical view of womanhood. Filled with wise insights related to relationships, body image, and women's roles in the home and the church, this thought-provoking book will help Christian women carefully consider these important issues."

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice Illustrated

'Pride and Prejudice' is one of the few novels I've read more than once, and when I saw this beautifully illustrated version, I decided it was time to read it again. : )

The 'Book Depository' website says of the book:

"A beguiling and modern illustrated edition of a classic tale. 

The Classics Reimagined series is a library of stunning collector's editions of classic novels illustrated by contemporary artists from around the world. 

Each artist offers his or her own unique, visual interpretation of the most well-loved, widely read, and avidly collected literature from renowned authors. From Grimm's Fairy Tales to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and from Edgar Allen Poe to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, art lovers and book collectors alike will not be able to resist owning the whole collection. 

Enjoy Jane Austen's witty novel of love and misunderstanding as you've never seen it before! Alice Pattullo's colorful interpretation of Pride and Prejudice follows the romantic adventures of Bennett sisters, Mr. Bingley and his dour friend Mr. Darcy. Her folkloric, multi-faceted images, breathe new life into this engaging romantic novel, making it a collectible for book and art lovers every where."

Visual Theology

I am so excited to get this book! I'm a visual learner and these kinds of books are often rare to find. It comes out this April.

Tim Challies says of his book here:

"We live in a visual culture. Today, people increasingly rely upon visuals to help them understand new and difficult concepts. The rise and popularity of the Internet infographic has given us a new way to convey data, concepts, and ideas. 

But the visual portrayal of truth is not a novel idea. 

God himself used visuals to teach truth to his people. If you have ever considered the different elements within the Old Testament tabernacle or temple you know that each element was a visual representation of a greater truth. The sacrificial system and later the cross were also meant to be visual—visual theology."

Mozart's Sister

I've loved all the novels I've read in Nancy Moser's  'Women of History' series, 'Just Jane' (Jane Austen), 'Washington's Lady' (Martha Washington) and 'How Do I Love Thee' (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

Now I'm looking forward to reading this final one about Mozart's sister, Nannerl.

The author says of the book on her website:

"In 1763, 11-year-old Nannerl Mozart performed before the crowned heads of Europe with her younger brother, Wolfgang.

But behind the glamour lurked dark difficulties-the hardship of travel, agonizing bouts of illness, and the constant concern over money. Their father, Leopold, is driven by a desire to bring his son's genius to the attention of the world.

But what about Nannerl? Was she not just as talented? In a time where women's choices are limited, what hope did she have of ever realizing her own dreams?"

The Things of Earth

How do we enjoy the gifts God has given, without becoming  idolatrous? I admit I've struggled with this. Sometimes feeling guilt for the things I have and other times feeling guilt for not being thankful!

I'm looking forward to some good advice from this book.

Amazon says of it here:
"Ice-cold lemonade. The laughter of children. College football. Scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. But what happens to these earthly pleasures when Jesus shows up? Do the things of earth grow strangely dim? Or does he shine in all that's fair?

In this book, Joe Rigney offers a breath of fresh air to Christians who are burdened by false standards, impossible expectations, and misguided notions of holiness. 

Steering a middle course between idolatry on the one hand and ingratitude on the other, this much-needed book reminds us that every good gift comes from the Father's hand, that God's blessings should drive us to worship and generosity, and that a passion for God's glory is as wide as the world."

January 22, 2016

At Home with Jane Austen

"Whether you are a newcomer, or a longtime Austen devotee, this book cannot fail to encourage your own further exploration of her life, times and work."
                                                         Mary Guyatt, Curator of Jane Austen's House Museum

I so enjoyed reading this book!!

It's filled with facts and information about the time and places Jane Austen lived in. Places like Steventon, where her father was rector at St. Nicholas Church, an enchanting 13th century building that still stands today. The city of Bath, with it's architecture and entertainments of the day, including the pump room and spa, where you could enjoy the warm spring waters. As well as includes the cities and towns of Southampton, Chawton, London and Winchester.

St. Nicholas Church

Intertwined with this information are quotes from Jane's novels, letters she personally wrote to family and friends and gorgeous photos on nearly every page.

Jane Austen is well known for writing about real places and real personalities. She never wrote about places she hadn't been and experienced, and always wrote her characters from personality traits of those she knew or encountered in her life.

Bath-Royal Crescent (This always brings to mind the novel Persuasion!)

This is beautifully laid out in this book. For example the chapter on the city of Bath introduces us to this lovely city, then shares a letter to her beloved sister Cassandra and later a quote from Northanger Abbey.

"In 1801 she wrote to Cassandra: 'On Sunday we went to church twice, & after evening service walked a little in the Crescent fields, but found it too cold to stay long,' (May 12) and in 1805: 'We did not walk long in the Crescent... It was hot and not crouded enough; so we went into the field.' (April 8) 

Her characters enjoyed walking by the Crescent as well. 

In Northanger Abbey, 'As soon as divine service was over, the Thorpes and Allens eagerly joined each other; and after staying long enough in the pump-room to discover that the crowd was insupportable, and that there was not a general face to be seen, which everybody discovers every Sunday throughout the season, they hastened away to the Crescent, to breathe the fresh air of better company."

Field in front of the Royal Crescent

I especially liked the chapter on when Jane lived at Chawton cottage. There she did most of her writing and revising of her novels. The photos in this chapter were lovely, as the place must of been to live.

Chawton Cottage

Below is my favorite photo from the book, as Jane's favorite flower was Syringa (lilacs), as is one of mine!

Jane's last residence was in Winchester, and there is where she passed away in 1817 from a unknown illness. Some believe she may have had, as the author states here:

"Hodgkin's lymphoma, cancer, recurrent typhus, tuberculosis, and even arsenic poisoning. The most common theory, based on her symptoms, is that she suffered from Addison's Disease, a disease of the adrenal glands, which at that time was fatal."

When I first saw this book I wasn't intending to read through it all, but rather skim through the photos and read a little here and there, but I'm so glad I took the time to read it all. What a delight! I am now looking forward to reading this authors two other books, 'In the Garden with Jane Austen' and 'Tea with Jane Austen.'

*Note: All photos, unless specified, were found on the internet, not the book.

Buy it HERE on Amazon

January 15, 2016

The World of Jesus: Making Sense of the People and Places of Jesus' Day

Have you ever wondered about Israel's history in those 400 missing years between the Old and New Testaments? Was God still working His plan through Israel? Where did the pharisees and suducess come from? Was any Biblical prophecy fulfilled during this time?

This book explores all these questions and more.

I found it brought the Bible and history together to give us a better understanding of God's plan. It starts during the exile of the Israelites to Babylon and leads us to the time of Christ, giving us a deeper feel of where the world was when Jesus was born.

The book is divided into 8 chapters on different periods of history:

1. Homeward Bound: The Persian Period
2. Alexander the Great: The apostle of Hellenism: The Greek Period
3. A Courageous Priest and His Sons: The Maccabean Revolt 
4. A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand: The Hasmonean Period
5. Herod the Great: 'The Client King': The Roman Period: Part 1
6. "The Paranoid King': The Roman Period: Part 2
7. Jesus and the Herodians: The Early Church and the Herodians
8. When Religion Gets Sick

Here's a few facts that I found fascinating:

1. On language and name:

During the Babylonian exile many Jews learned Aramaic and it continued through the years..."Many Jews at the time of Christ spoke three languages - Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic." 

"...until the Babylonian exile, the descendants of Israel had been called Israelites. Why were they all called 'Jews' thereafter? Apparently it was difficult to pronounce 'Judahites' in Aramaic, so the Babylonians shortened the term." 

2. On Jesus and tradition:

 "Ezra...according to Jewish tradition was the first scribe. Over the centuries, the scribes became the Law's official interpreters, and they made judgements on religious and legal issues. By the time of Christ, their legal decisions had become official in oral tradition.

Many of the conflicts between Jesus and the religious leaders were about these scribal traditions. The Pharisees and scribes repeatedly accused Him of breaking the Law. However, He never violated the Law of Moses. He often disregarded scribal interpretation of the Law because it violated the divine intent of the actual Law God gave to Moses for the people (Matt. 23)."

This made me think of all the traditions passed down through Christianity as well, and how important it is to stay true to God Word, and to not put emphasis on tradition.

3. On Alexander the Great:

"Josephus, a historian from the Roman period, later said that when Alexander threatened to destroy Jerusalem and the temple, the high priest Jaddua met him and read passages from the book of Daniel that predicted his victory over the Persians. Alexander was so impressed that he exempted the Jews from paying tribute and permitted them to live according to their own laws. According to Josephus, some Jews even joined his army. These intriguing accounts suggest an openness to Hellenism by some Jews in order to preserve their traditions (Antiquities of the Jews 11:8.4-5)."

Got Questions.org explains the Biblical prophecies well here:

"Then a goat “came from the west” (Daniel 8:5) with a single horn between its eyes. The horn represents the king, Alexander. The goat killed the ram and “became very great, but at the height of his power his large horn was broken off” (Daniel 8:8) – a prediction of Alexander’s untimely death. In Daniel’s vision, the single horn is replaced with four new horns, which are “four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power” (Daniel 8:22). The four new kingdoms are mentioned again in Daniel 11:4, which says that “his [Alexander’s] empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised.” These passages describe, two centuries in advance, precisely what happened to Alexander and his empire.

I found this so interesting! Both the prophecies of Daniel, as well as the historical account of Alexander meeting the high priest.

4. On Herod the Great:

"When Jesus was born, Israel was a Roman province ruled by Herod the Great. Rome had given Herod the title 'King of the Jews'...

From a human perspective, Herod was a ruthless tyrant. Still, God can accomplish His good purposes through evil human intentions and actions. It is unlikely national Israel would have survived Roman conquest and domination without Herod the Great-the Romans would probably have totally destroyed Israel and dispersed the Jews all over the world much sooner then they eventually did in AD 70.

God used Herod to preserve his chosen people and keep the nation intact until the time came for Him to send His Son, the promised Messiah, the world's Savior."

The more I think about this, I find a greater understanding of the sovereignty of God. He really is in control.

Though I didn't agree with every assessment the author made, I found the book fascinating. And because I love history, I felt this was a great read that I can recommend.

Buy it HERE on Amazon

January 9, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge

Happy New Year everyone! Hope the start of your year is going well.

I thought it would be fun to share this check list I found at Tim Challies website HERE. I've never done a reading challenge before, so I'm only committing to 'The Light Reader' though I will probably read more than 13 books this year.

The rules are flexible, so instead of just picking my 13 books from the light reader section, I'm going to choose a few books per-section. I've added mine in pink to the category. Feel free to use this list to challenge yourself this year as well.

The Light Reader

_ 1. A book about Christian living
_ 2. A biography
3. A classic novel - 'Ruth' by Elizabeth Gaskell
_ 4. A book someone tells you "changed my life"
_ 5. A commentary on a book of the Bible
6. A book about theology - 'Housewife Theologian' by Aimee Byrd
_ 7. A book with the word "gospel" in the title or subtitle
_ 8. A book your pastor recommends
_ 9. A book more than 100 years old
_ 10. A book for children
_ 11. A mystery or detective novel
12. A book published in 2016 - 'The Preacher's Lady' by Lori Copeland
_ 13. A book about a current issue

The Avid Reader

_ 14. A book written by a Puritan
15. A book recommended by a family member - 'The Immoral Life of Henrietta Lacks' by Rebecca Skloot
_ 16. A book by or about a missionary
_ 17. A novel that won the Pulitzer Prize
_ 18. A book written by an Anglican - 'Holiness' by J.C. Ryle
_ 19. A book with at least 400 pages
_ 20. A book by C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien
_ 21. A book that has a fruit of the Spirit in the title - 'God's Love' by R.C. Sproul
_ 22. A book with a great cover
_ 23. A book on the current New York Times list of bestsellers
_ 24. A book about church history
_ 25. A graphic novel
_ 26. A book of poetry

The Committed Reader

_ 27. A book from a theological viewpoint you disagree with
_ 28. A book written by an author with initials in their name
_ 29. A book that won a ECPA Christian Book Award
_ 30. A book about worldview
_ 31. A play by William Shakespeare
_ 32. A humorous book
_ 33. A book based on a true story
_ 34. A book written by Jane Austen
_ 35. A book by or about Martin Luther
_ 36. A book with 100 pages or less
37. A book with a one-word title - 'Thrive' by Mark Hall
_ 38. A book about money or finance
39. A novel set in a country that is not your own - 'So Shines the Night' by Tracy L. Higley
_ 40. A book about music
_ 41. A memoir
_ 42. A book about joy or happiness
_ 43. A book by a female author
_ 44. A book whose title comes from a Bible verse
45. A book you have started but never finished - 'All the Lights We Cannot See' by Anthony Doerr
_ 46. A self-improvement book
_ 47. A book by David McCullough 
_ 48. A book you own but have never read
_ 49. A book about abortion
_ 50. A book targeted at the other gender
_ 51. A book by a speaker at a conference you have attended
_ 52. A book written by someone of a different ethnicity than you

The Obsessed Reader

_ 53. A book published by The Banner of Truth
_ 54. A book about the Reformation
_ 55. A book written by a first-time author
56. A biography of a world leader - 'A. Lincoln' by Ronald C. White
_ 57. A book used as a seminary textbook
_ 58. A book about food
_ 59. A book about productivity
_ 60. A book about or relationships or friendship
_ 61. A book about parenting
_ 62. A book about philosophy
_ 63. A book about art
_ 64. A book with magic
_ 65. A book about prayer
_ 66. A book about marriage
_ 67. A book about a hobby
_ 68. A book of comics
_ 69. A book about the Second World War
_ 70. A book about sports
_ 71. A book by or about a pastor’s wife
_ 72. A book about suffering
_ 73. A book by your favorite author
_ 74. A book you have read before
75. A book about homosexuality - 'The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert' by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
_ 76. A Christian novel
_ 77. A book about psychology
_ 78. A book about the natural world
_ 79. A book by or about Charles Dickens
80. A novel longer than 400 pages - 'Five Brides' by Eva Marie Everson
_ 81. A historical book
_ 82. A book about the Bible
_ 83. A book about a country or city
_ 84. A book about astronomy
_ 85. A book with an ugly cover
_ 86. A book by or about a martyr
_ 87. A book by a woman conference speaker
_ 88. A book by or about the church fathers
_ 89. A book about language
_ 90. A book by or about a Russian
_ 91. A book about leadership
_ 92. A book about public speaking
_ 93. A book by Francis Schaeffer
_ 94. A book by a Presbyterian
_ 95. A book about science
_ 96. A book about revival
_ 97. A book about writing
_ 98. A book about evangelism
_ 99. A book about ancient history
_ 100. A book about preaching
_ 101. A book about the church
_ 102. A book about adoption
103. A photo essay book - 'Humans of New York' by Brandon Stanton
_ 104. A book written in the twentieth century

Extra Credit

_ 105. A book from a library
_ 106. A book about business
_ 107. A book by an author less than 30
_ 108. A book published by a UK-based publisher
_ 109. A book you borrow

*Also feel free to leave a comment with some books on your list for 2016. I would love to hear about what you are planning on reading this upcoming year. : )