Monday, August 19, 2013

Grace by Max Lucado

This is the first Max Lucado book I have read.  It was pretty good, but did not blow me away.  The topic of the book however, does blow me away when I stop to really think about it which makes me by default kind of love this book.

Lucado starts out the book pointing out how most of us settle for a wimpy definition of grace.  Like most overused words, this one has lost the power of it's true meaning.  He talks about that and tries to capture with words what God's grace is (it really is incomprehensible).

He then uses a lot of different stories from the Bible and some real life stories that convey what grace is. From Barabbas to Ruth to the Egyptians to current day stories and ultimately to the true, complete expression of grace-Jesus- grace has been shown since before creation and has been completed and perfected in God's gift of Jesus.  It was God's Plan A.  This book is a great reminder of the overwhelming power His grace and grace in general.  Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

The Christian is a man (or woman) to whom something has happened. 

Grace comes after you.

Precious as it is to proclaim "Christ died for the world", even sweeter it is to whisper "Christ died for me."

There is no fine print.  A second shoe is not going to drop.  God's promise has no hidden language.  Let grace happen, for heaven's sake. No more performing for God, no more clamoring after God.  Of all the things you must earn in life, God's unending affection is not one of them.  You have it.  Stretch yourself out in the hammock of grace.  You can rest now.

To accept grace is to accept the vow to give it.

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.

I do not at all understand the mystery of grace- only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. 

It also includes a Reader's Guide that is pretty much a Bible study that goes along with each chapter.  The whole book was easy to read and I liked all the examples and parables he used throughout the book.  I haven't had a chance to do the Reader's Guide portion in the back yet, but am definitely looking forward to using that during my quiet times this month.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I had to read this book back in high school, but I really didn't remember much of it at all except that this Gatsby guy was rich and threw parties and was in love with someone.

When I saw the previews for the movie, I knew I had to re-read this because the books are always better than the movie versions.

Just like I remembered, Gatsby is rich and throws lavish parties.  He is in love with a married woman, Daisy.  They were in love years ago, but Gatsby went off to war and Daisy ended up marrying someone else.  But Gatsby never forgot her.  He bought this mansion on "West Egg" strategically because it is directly across from Tom and Daisy's house on "East Egg".  Ironically Daisy's husband is cheating on her.  And that plays a big part in the story line too.

All of this is narrated by Nick who is Daisy's cousin(?) and Gatsby's next door neighbor.  Gatsby is portrayed as this mysterious guy that no one really knows well, but everyone knows of.  Eventually Nick learns of Gatsby's connection to Daisy and Daisy and Gatsby are re-introduced to each other.

About 2/3 of the way through the book picks up pace and a crazy string of events happens (I won't spoil it for you).  At the end it is just really tragic and sad the way things end up and the lessons you can derive from the story are just sad too.

It was interesting and weird (I think that is the formula to become a "classic").  It's not a huge book, so it is probably worth picking up.  The beginning can be a tad slow though.

Overall I didn't love it so I am just giving it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, May 24, 2013

As Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers

As Sure as the Dawn is the third and final book of this series.  It continues the story of a character from the first book, Atretes.  He is a German warrior who was enslaved by the Romans and forced to fight as a Gladiator.

This book introduces new characters and fully develops some that we were just introduced to in the first book.  Atretes only had a few short interactions with the heroine of this series, Haddasah, but they had a profound affect on him.  They frequently flash back to them in this book.  Atretes was a hard man before becoming a Gladiator and having his heart broken by Julia Valerian, but those two things have really hardened his heart.  But God places some people in his life that are able to show him kindness, even when he is being a jerk, and speak Truth to him.  Will he make it back to Germany and escape everything he hates about Rome?  I guess you will have to read the series to find out!

Loved this one too!  5 out of 5 stars!  What are you waiting for?  Read. these. books. now.

Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers

Echo in the Darkness is the second book in The Mark of the Lion series and I loved this book too!

I'm not going to say too much about this one because I don't want to give away any spoilers.  The story of the Valerians continues.  You see the effect Hadassah had on all of their lives and where it takes each of them.  Marcus retreats from everyone on a long journey to process everything that happened in the first book.  Julia's actions continue to catch up to her and she starts to learn some hard lessons.  This book felt more heavy.  All the characters were dealing with and going through a lot.  But the same undercurrent carries the stories through.

I will say I loved the ending of this one!

Again 5 out of 5 stars!  And seriously- read. this. series. now.

Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers

I LOVED this book!  Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers is a book that will stay with me for a long time.  I have recommended this book (and the whole series) to so many people and the two girls that already finished loved them!  The rest of y'all need to get on it because seriously this series is that good!

This one sentance summary from sums it up pretty well:

In an ancient culture frighteningly similar to modern-day America, a young slave girl fights to save the family -- and the man -- she has grown to love.

This book is the story of Hadassah.  She's a young Jewish girl by blood but Christian by faith in Christ.  The story opens with her home Jerusalem being destroyed by the Roman army.  Her family is killed and she is made a prisoner and then sold as a slave to the wealthy Valerian family.  This family has issues.  Marcus is a young man who is trying to build a name and wealth for himself apart from his father who he disagrees with and resents.  Julia is...crazy.  She is a young girl who does what she wants, when she wants, and rebels against just about anything and everything.  The poor mom is torn between them all.  And Hadassah serves this family faithfully and lovingly.  So much happens in this book:  arranged marriages, death, abortion, love, hate, violence, just about anything and everything you could think of.  And Hadassah is just such a great example through it all of how to live you life for God- putting your faith and future completely in His hands and trusting him- while loving people (even when they are unlovable) and just living your life with integrity no matter the circumstances.

It is seriously so good!  Definitely 5 out of 5 stars!  I highly recommend this book and series!!
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