Thursday, April 21, 2016

Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind

Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind *****
by Suzanne Fisher Staples

Overview: Shabanu's family are nomads in the deserts of Pakistan. This is her coming of age story about leaving behind all that she holds dear as a girl and facing the bitter reality of growing up.

Negative elements: rape, abuse, murder. In addition, this story has many mature themes related to sexuality including puberty, arranged marriages, multiple wives, etc. 

Positive elements: loyalty to family

Conclusion: Life for a young Muslim girl can be so hopeless, especially if forced into a bad marriage. I really came to care for Shabanu, her sister, and her parents. I felt like I was there in Pakistan, living in the desert, raising camels, and traveling with the rains. This book is so well-written. I think that's why the book's sad ending was so devastating. 

I would only recommend this book to older teens or young adults due to the mature themes.  And even then, I would be hesitant to recommend it. This is a Newberry Honor book.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Africa Study Bible

Africa Study Bible

Tyndale is preparing to release this Bible aimed to help English speaking Africans better understand and study the Bible.

“With the ASB, we’re bringing the power of Scripture to Africa in a new and culturally relevant way,” says Dr. Matthew Elliott, president of Oasis International, publisher of the Africa Study Bible. “Under the leadership of an 11-member editorial board of scholars from across Africa, we’ve brought together350 writers and editors from over 40 African countries, representing 50 denominations. This is an unprecedented project that will impact the global church.”

Tyndale says, "Designed to grow the faith of African church members, teach them to evangelize their communities, and apply a biblical worldview to their society, the ASB uses the New Living Translation and includes 2,400 plus features such as application notes, stories and proverbs, touchpoints that link Africa and the Bible, learn notes that explain basic theology, and major theme articles that apply the Bible to key issues."

I have seen downloaded excerpts of the Bible. I read from Genesis 1. There are a lot of foot notes and study helps, it seems.

I was asked by Tyndale Publishers and Oasis International to spread the word about this new Bible. Oasis International is raising one million dollars to help print the first 100,000 copies of the new Africa Study Bible.

You can check out the Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the Bible here

I guess I'm just a little sad that one million dollars will be raised and spent to publish yet another English Bible. There are so many languages in the world that don't have ONE Bible yet. And I truly believe that the Bible is powerful to change lives in any culture...even without having specific footnotes. 

Your Eternal Reward

Your Eternal Reward   *****
by Erwin Lutzer

I haven't read any books or heard any sermons that I recall that address in such depth our eternal rewards as believers in Jesus. I know of course that I'll go to heaven, and that seems the greatest possible reward. But this book goes way beyond that to talk about what Christ expects from us, the rewards in heaven for those who are faithful, and the loss for those who aren't. He also talks about the judgement that believers will go through and the great, final judgement for all people.

We will all stand before Jesus to account for what we've done with the life He's given us. That is a sobering thought.

This book has really encouraged me to remember that the pleasures in this life are fleeting. I should be storing up treasures in heaven since that's where I'll be forever. As simplistic as that sounds, Lutzer really spells out what that process of "storing up treasures in heaven" looks like on a daily basis. He talks about investing our money here on Earth in a way that we will have an eternal return on those investments. Each day, it really all comes down to keeping our eyes on Jesus and serving those He's placed around us in humility, one person at a time, one day at a time. And realizing that here on Earth, this life of service might not look like much. But in heaven "the first are last, and the last first."

I would recommend this book to anyone. Lutzer has such a gift for words. He can make theology interesting to read and easy to understand. The book is short and not intimidating to read.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Lead Me Home

Lead Me Home  *****
by Amy Sorrells

Overview: James Horton is facing an identity crisis as the world he knows is crumbling away. His rural church is dying and about to close its doors. His wife is dead. His teenage daughter is shutting out those who care.

Noble Burden is a young man struggling to find himself in the midst of too much responsibility as he's keeping his family's dairy running, caring for his mentally handicapped brother, and supporting his mom. All of his dreams of being a musician seem to be buried under so many cows.

This is the story of a small town, the people who live there, and what it truly means to "be the church" day in and day out.

Positive elements: Well-written, easy to read, clean.

Negative elements: Suicide, physical abuse and alcoholism depicted but not in a graphic way.

Conclusion: I don't usually enjoy modern, Christian fiction. It tends to be too predictable for me. This book was predictable, but the story was well-told and enjoyable. The characters do a lot of soul searching which is often tedious to read. But the author really did a good job of walking the characters through their issues. And like one of my friends says...because life is complicated, she likes a book where everything works out perfectly in the end. She'll like this book!

There are questions at the end of the book if you wanted to do a book club discussion.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Whipping Boy

The Whipping Boy  *****
by Sid Fleischman

Two boys run away, and they have to work together. Jemmy helps the prince, and the prince starts to like Jemmy. After a while, they become friends.

My favorite quote is from the king. He says, "If you boys decide to run away again, take me with you." 

I like this book because the boys start out not liking each other but at the end they do. People of any age will like this book.

By Sabrina Staples, 7        

The Courage of Sarah Noble

The Courage of Sarah Noble  *****
by Alice Dalgliesh

Sarah is a young girl who goes ahead with her father into the wilderness to build a house for their family. She is afraid of the animals and the Indians. She has to keep reminding herself to not lose her courage. 

I want my girls to read these true stories about other girls who were courageous. And to be reminded that it is okay to be afraid as long as you don't let it take away your courage. Sarah reads her Bible to the Indians in the story, but that is the only reference to God. I think the story missed the important point that our courage ultimately comes from trusting God.

This is a short book; we read it in a few sittings. I highly recommend it to any young girl. It's probably a third grade reading level.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Captains Couragous

Captains Courageous *****
by Rudyard Kipling

Overview: Harvey falls off the deck of his luxery ocean liner, presumed dead by his family, and is later rescued by a small fishing boat. No one on the boat believes that his father is a millionaire, and they refuse to abandon their whole season of fishing to take him ashore. So, he has to learn how to work and get along with others for the first time in his life.

Positive elements: Harvey learns so many lessons about the value of work, friendship, and team work. The descriptions are amazing. I felt like I was out in the middle of the ocean on a fishing boat.

Negative elements: I skipped over one small part about a dead body being found. The story is funny and important, but I left out some of the grisly details when I read it aloud. You also read of fisherman dying, but nothing is graphic or inappropriate...and none are main characters who you care too much about either.

Conclusion: Our whole family enjoyed this old classic. You really love all of the characters. The end of the book slowed down a bit. The last two chapters wrap-up the story and were too boring for the kids. Besides that, it was a great read.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Finding Freedom

Finding Freedom  *****
By American Girl

Overview: Addy Walker, an American girl, is a slave. This book takes place during the time when people were fighting for black people's rights of freedom. 

Addy, her two other siblings, and parents are trying to find a way to escape. They are planning to go to Pennsylvania. But before they leave, Addy Walker's Poppa and brother Sam are sold! Now Addy Walker and her momma are stuck on the plantation with Esther. One night, they decide to leave Esther with her Aunt and Uncle. That night they go run out into the woods to the old lady with the red shutters. She hides slaves. Addy almost got caught by some soldiers. The soldiers ignored her because she was dressed up as a boy. Then when her and momma got to the house, the lady didn't let them in because she thought Addy was an annoying solider boy. 

Addy goes to Pennsylvania and meets a girl named Sarah. Sarah helps her in school on  the first day. The church helps her momma find a job with Mrs. Ford a seamstress. The next day the kids get their permanent desk partners. Addy gets a mean girl named Harriet. She was named after Harriet Tubman she says. Addy teaches her mom to read when she gets home from school. She uses scraps of dough to teach her words. She had been practicing for a spelling match. Harriet was super mean and kept saying," I going to win." 

Read the book to find out what happens with Addy and her family!

Positive Elements:  She loves her family.

Negative Elements: Slaves get sold.  

Theme: friendship, working together, and love

Conclusion: I think this was a great book! I think you should read it! There are more series after this book I'm going to read! I think it would be good for ages 9 and up because there are some hard words. I have the American Girl Doll, Addy Walker so that's what got me interested in this book.        


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

I Dared to Call Him Father

I Dared to Call Him Father  *****
by Bilquis Sheikh

A friend who grew up in Pakistan recommended this book to me. It's the story of a prominent Muslim woman in Pakistan finding Jesus. She wrestles through what it means to follow Jesus even if it costs her everything. She is boycotted from family functions, has death threats, no one will speak to her, her house is set on fire, and finally she has to leave Pakistan. But through it all, she talks about how God gives her peace. She talks about the importance of meeting with other believers, of reading the Bible, and of obeying God daily.

I was so encouraged to read this amazing story of what God did through this one obedient woman. I so easily forget about how great and powerful God is. And that He still works in mysterious ways today.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone! It is well-written, fast paced, and so encouraging!

the Cay

 The Cay       *****
  By Theodore Taylor 

Overview: The Cay is a great book about a boy named Phillip, who falls off a boat called the Hato when it's torpedoed by a German submarine. Timothy, a black man, rescues Phillip when he falls off the boat. They float on a raft to a small island in the Devil's Mouth. Phillip hates Timothy at first because he thinks he's an ugly black man. His mother always told him stay away from black people. Timothy always says, "That be true young bass, that be true." He is use to calling white people "boss." Phillip and Timothy are stranded on this island, trying their best to survive. Then Phillip goes blind! Phillip thinks he's worthless, but Timothy tells him he can still do a lot. Timothy teaches Phillip to weave mats for beds. Timothy helps Phillip survive during many hard long months. Timothy and Phillip start to run out of food! Timothy is too old to climb a tree and pick the coconuts that dangle on the palm trees above their heads. So he tells blind Phillip to climb up the tree and get a coconut. So Phillip climes the tree and gets the coconut. They start to become very good friends. Timothy starts preparing a palm tree to hold to if a hurricane comes. And sure enough a hurricane comes, and they run and tie themselves to a tree. Timothy ties himself on top of Phillip so Phillip won't get hurt. When hurricane is done, Phillip unties himself from Timothy. Phillip realizes that Timothy is bleeding and that Timothy saved his life! Phillip is trying to survive on this island, and is trying all kinds of things to get the aircraft to notice him. So you'll find out how Phillip survives. 

Positive Elements: Phillip realizes that black people are the same. Phillip realizes that he can do a lot of things when he's blind.

Negative Elements: Someone Dies.

Theme: Friendship, working together, and respect

Conclusion: I think this one best books I've ever read! I think you should read it.

by Summer Staples, 9