Sunday, January 21, 2018

Book Review: Judah's Wife by Angela Hunt

I LOVED Esther by Angela Hunt, but after Bathsheba I decided to forego any more Angela Hunt books (b/c tmi). But then a family member recommended Egypt's Sister, the first of the new Silent Years series. And then Judah's Wife (about the Maccabees) came up in my Bethany House Publisher's e-mail of books I could potentially read and review and, being that it was around the time of Hanukkah, I thought HEY, I'll ask for the e-book and get started on it while it is still the time of the year when we celebrate the Maccabees! I was excited! I was going to enter into the season!

There was strong characterization in the beginning. A girl brought up with an abusive father is glad to escape but thinks her new husband is secretly waiting for her to let down her guard so he can hurt her. Judah, one of several sons, told by his father it is time to marry and then finds himself lovestruck by the cheese-maker's daughter with no idea of the baggage she will be bringing into their relationship. The setting? The in-between years of the Old and New Testaments when many Jews were assimilating with the culture of the nations. Judah's zealous father leads his family and town to stand up against the invading pagans who would force them to sacrifice to their gods. But when the father dies, he appoints Judah to take his place, and Leah finds herself married to a warrior, a man who strikes down people, a man who is everything she never wanted.

The book offers a play by play of the battles Judah and his brothers lead against invading forces. A couple descriptive battle scenes (with elephants!). A lot of "we went there, hid here, fought them, and won." Several inspiring rallying speeches before and after Judah's father dies--a call to serve the one true God, to defy the idol-worshipping rulers, to trust Him who is not constrained by small numbers.

And Judah and Leah's story stays mostly surface level, in the background.

Their initial conflict is resolved. They finally are happy. But they are like characters passing in the night. Who are they? What do they say when they are at home taking care of their goats? For the reader, the husband-and-wife character development is sacrificed for Judah's battles, and I am left wondering why it is called "Judah's Wife" when I feel like I barely know her.

Neither is there any build-up to a climax. I was waiting for the BIG MOMENT. The goal towards which all this is building. There wasn't one. I'll refrain from giving away the ending. It was really good, if not abrupt, but...

the book was ill-named and so my expectations skewed my perception of the story.

I recommend this book if you want to read about the Maccabees battling the many enemies that came out against them and be inspired by how God delivered them. That part was interesting though slightly monotonous (even the characters mention near the end that they've been doing the same thing in and out with no change to their circumstances). I would not recommend this book if you want to read a character-driven story.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, December 1, 2017

231: that Christmas spirit

a gift from a parent
during parent/teacher conferences!
So I picked up some December writing prompts, but my students don't have time to do them this month (we have 2 weeks to learn how to take notes for research papers :O), but I thought, hey, maybe I could do them on my blog. Get those writing muscles exercised some more.
December 1 prompt: I am excited for December because...
Well, December is a crazy month. Like, 2 weeks of school craziness, 1 week out of town, 1 week socializing before BAM! back to SCHOOL with Easter break on the distant horizon. I have two Bible college finals to take in the next two weeks, lessons to plan, presents to buy, just stuff, stuff, stuff.

So what am I excited about? That Christmassy feeling. Captured in movies. Bottled as an essential oil. Dark nights, crisp air, twinkly lights, people bustling and shopping. *cue Christmas music*

A feeling. That's what excites me about December. No wonder there is so much stress this time of year. Planting your expectations on a feeling. Like nailing Jello to the wall. Except usually a chilly evening with some Christmas songs will do the trick. Much more attainable--and enjoyable--than gooey walls. The Christmas spirit.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Book Review: Too Far Down by Mary Connealy

Well...I usually love Mary Connealy, but her latest book, Too Far Down, was a dud for me.

Connealy's genius comes in her action writing. This book spent the first full half inside the characters' heads and in reminisces (retelling) of what happened in all the other Cimmaron Legacy books up to this point. Waaaay too much thinking. Way too much talking! The first half of the book was boring, redundant, and not even especially believable.

Now the second half of the book got fun! The plot finally MOVED, there was at last more action than thought and dialogue, and, yeah, basically things started happening. There was still too much dialogue, ie. Murphy's loooong speeech, Hattie's loooong speech--neither seemed quite believable, but they were at least more interesting.

I'm not sure what made the author change her normal method of writing (the last book in this series was weak too), but I hope she goes back to what makes her older books so great. A little less Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot scratching verbally at the problem and a little more, well, Mary Connealy!

Also, I have a bit of a problem with the last page of the book describing the author. Connealy's books are NOT "romantic comedies about cowboys." At least, not in the American sense of "comedy". At least, I don't think of them as comedies. Enjoyable, but not because they are knee-slappers.

Review for book 2 in this series: http://ladymsdistractions.blogspot.com/2017/04/book-review-long-time-gone-by-mary.html

Review for book 1 in this series: http://ladymsdistractions.blogspot.com/2016/07/book-review-no-way-up-by-mary-connealy.html

P.S. The Bartered Bride by Tish Davis was a pleasant discovery last weekend after reading Irenaeus and Too Far Down! It too is the third in a series, and now I'm reading the first in the series because The Bartered Bride was such a solid Christian romance.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Book Review: Irenaeus of Lyon

This year we didn't have any plans for Thanksgiving until later in the day, so I took the opportunity to finally read one of my free-in-exchange-for-an-honest-review books that I'm I was supposed to review weeks ago. Oops.



Irenaeus of Lyon by Simonetta Carr is a lovely-looking biography for young readers. My mom and I relaxed on our living room couches and I read to her the 62 landscape-laid pages.

Although definitely meant for readers above my 6-9 yr. old range, Irenaeus is thorough and very clearly written. My mom and I were fascinated by this less well-known brother from early church history. As was the same with the author's biography on Martin Luther that I shared with my class last month, this one is interspersed with Rembrandt-esque original art relating to the story and with photos of statues, ruins, and other relevant depictions of the culture of Irenaeus' day.

The book is very informative not only about Irenaeus but also about early church history and the theological differences of the day. It was edifying and interesting. My favorite part is actually about a disagreement between Polycarp and Anicetus about when Easter should be celebrated. The author says, "In the end, Polycarp and Anicetus couldn't persuade each other but agreed to allow both practices so that the churches could be united." Apparently this unity left an impression on Irenaeus. I was delighted too.

I highly recommend this book, but I think it is more fitting for pre-teens and teens than elementary-age children. The theological content is deep, but also there are descriptions about persecution that, while sensitively handled, are still intense. 5 out of 5 stars!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

230: can't whine, so what then?

You know what the blessing of singleness is? I can't blame any unhappiness on my insensitive husband or on my chaotic kids. I can blame it on what I don't have, but the blessing of prolonged singleness is that, if you're not actively going on dates, blaming stuff on singleness starts sounding like whining and stops being socially acceptable, like complaining about your spouse and kids still is (contrary to God's way, fyi).

You then find yourself forced to either be that negative whiner or, instead, wrestle with God about your feelings. Social acceptability for once has the potential to direct us toward God and sanctification and maybe even intentional thankfulness.

So, ouch though it may be, today's blessing is that whining about being single is not socially acceptable.
Ever need to complain less?


Ok, this post may be a stretch, and it's more a blessing IN than OF singleness, but this is my last post for the month! Hoozah! I'll be posting the complete list of links soon if you want to look back on the other quirky things I've been thankful for this month. :) May God continue to increase our awareness of His many blessings. Ciao!



I have inconsistently participated in "Write 31 Days," where a bunch of bloggers write...for 31 days. My theme has been "This My Single Life," with a focus on the blessings of this season. Hopefully it's obvious to anyone who knows me or has read my blog that I want to be married and have kids. But at 32 years old, I am quite single, and I think it's God-glorifying to highlight the good things God has given me with singleness. Click here to access the links for my 31 days of writing! And if you want to read everyone else's blog posts, go to http://write31days.com/ and click "Linking Up" for the categories!

Monday, October 30, 2017

229: different is normal

Seriously running out of unique things specifically related to singleness to be thankful for!

As it is late for a school night, this will be brief (that, and it's hard to come up with anything I haven't already said).

As a single living at home still, my life is very much not like the lives of other believers I may interact with. I met with two older ladies tonight for "triad" (like a community group but with only 3 people). They were talking about their adult children and grandchildren.

Mmm, well, I've got my parents?

But isn't that what life and the body of Christ consists of? Interacting with people in different stages and seasons than yourself. Feeling a little like I've been stuck in the same stage for the last 32 years--granted, growing in maturity over the years within this stage--I feel a bit behind the times listening to these ladies talk. But no matter what stage of life we are in, there will always be someone else who is in a different stage that we can't quite relate to even if we listen and "understand" what they are saying.

So today's blessing of singleness is the opportunities to interact with differences, deal with that rub within myself, accept this path as ok and their path as ok, and learn yet again that different is okay, not on opportunity for envy or exclusion or blahness.

Restating this again...

It can feel as a semi-older single that most people are in a different category than yourself, but the truth is there are multiple seasons, and whatever season you are in will look different from another's. I think of my friend with a son whose illness probably means a shortened lifespan. How can her life path be compared to another young married's? We all have unique lives.

So I am thankful for the chance to learn that a bit now.

This is my single life. Any of my Eeyore-ness of "poor me" fades in light of truth.

What different stages of life are you glad you get to interact with?

P.S. Oh, and learning to accept that other people might not get my struggles, might have no clue about my journey of wrestling with my current season, and that's an opportunity too to either communicate or to get to the place where I don't need to be understood to be secure in the place where God has me, ie. in His hand, which ironically is where "they" are resting too.

P.P.S. Apparently I am more long-winded than brief when I haven't time. :P No time to be concise!

I am participating in "Write 31 Days," where a bunch of bloggers write...for 31 days. My theme is "This My Single Life," with a focus on the blessings of this season. Hopefully it's obvious to anyone who knows me or has read my blog that I want to be married and have kids. But at 32 years old, I am quite single, and I think it's God-glorifying to highlight the good things God has given me with singleness. Click here to access the links for my 31 days of writing! And if you want to read everyone else's blog posts, go to http://write31days.com/ and click "Linking Up" for the categories!