Daughter of Rome

 

428714: Daughter of Rome, softcover Daughter of Rome, softcover

By Tessa Afshar / Tyndale House

Daughter of Rome is Biblical fiction with Priscilla and Aquila as main characters. From the basic facts recorded in the Book of Acts and Romans, Tessa Afshar draws out a tale that spans the couple’s exodus from Rome to Corinth and their subsequent work as evangelists. Priscilla is a Bible personality held in high regard due to her intellect, compassion, and mercy. This theme is a constant thread throughout the novel. Together, Priscilla and Aquila, are a formidable duo proclaiming the gospel to searching souls. The apostle Paul also figures prominently in this novel. Hats off to Afshar who captures Paul’s fervor with success. I’m sure it’s a daunting task to pen dialogue for this zealous missionary. Paul’s passion for spreading the gospel through teaching and advising while surviving persecution is true to the historical record.

Some of the most tender and fun moments occur when Priscilla and Aquila open their hearts and home to a runaway boy. The young runaway, Marcus, eventually wins a lasting place in their family group. A little revelry enters the story through the antics of Ferox, the family dog.

As you make your way through the book, details about Ancient Rome will pique your interest. Whether it’s political life or social customs, you’ll find yourself looking up additional references. Only in two or three instances did I feel the story’s pace was interrupted by some word choices that I will admit sent me to the dictionary. Dint and calumnious being two examples.

Overall, Afshar shares a story that shines a light on the importance of mercy and forgiveness. Two qualities as important to the ancient world as they are to communities today. In addition, readers will be impressed by the team of early Christians who persevered despite harsh treatment and threats on their life.

I jumped at the chance to read an advanced reader’s copy of Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar. I thought her previous book Bread of Angels was stellar. Naturally I had high expectations for this upcoming release due out February 4, 2020. I received this ARC from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. #DaughterofRome #NetGalley

The King’s Mercy

98942EB: The King"s Mercy: A Novel - eBook The King’s Mercy: A Novel – eBook

By Lori Benton / WaterBrook

Lori Benton chooses words with great attention to details. Her prose is rich. Her dialogue spot on. The characters speak with authentic voices drawing you into the narrative. I just finished reading Benton’s latest novel , The King’s Mercy, and found it entirely enjoyable. The setting spans the North Carolina landscape from the coast to the mountains. It’s a complete story with mystery, romance, history, and rock solid Christian theology. Her leading characters eventually arrive at a happy ending. The plot twists and turns make you wonder if better days for them will truly arrive. A repulsive character keeps you guessing throughout the story and his backstory and abhorrent behavior is revealed in its entirety.

I’m not sure which I liked best – the description of the North Carolina landscape, the rugged Scotsman, the faithful itinerant pastor, the Native American community, or the heroine, Joanna. Fans of historical fiction will be pleased to spend time with the characters in this book.

The King’s Mercy was a 2019 summer release and in my TBR queue. I’m so glad I picked it up to read. I was drawn to it because previously I read, A Flight of Arrows and found it to be equally satisfying. The e-book I read was an ARC that I accepted from the publisher. The review is my honest opinion of this historical fiction book. #TheKingsMercy#NetGalley

 

Music to Move You

CD87212: The Work, Volume 1 The Work, Volume 1

By Elias Dummer / Integrity Music

Former frontman for The City Harmonic, songwriter Elias Dummer makes his solo debut with The Work, Volume 1. This theologically rich collection blends folk-pop and intimate worship styles on “Enough,” “The Work (It Ain’t Easy),” “This Is Holy Ground,” and more.

Elias Dummer’s recent hit “Enough” will move you. My Pastor’s Wife introduced us to this song at a recent Bible study. The study is an examination of Paul’s letter to Colossians. The central message of this study is the supremacy of Christ and how he is enough. At each session we either open or close by listening to this song. Now at worship team practice with the lyrics in hand we are giving it a try. If you purchase the CD you can be treated to other creations by Elias Dummer.

I have not had Christian radio on for awhile since the reception both at home and in the car has been poor. Since I switched recently to streaming Air1 over the Internet I’ve had no trouble. There are many tremendous new songs to enjoy. Have you heard Matt Maher’s recent song titled Because He Lives. Also great! Happy listening.

Something Needs to Change

291417: Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need

By David Platt / Multnomah

This title is a must read. The message is timely. If you’ve been lukewarm about missions, this book will change your outlook. It’s realistic and compels you to consider the urgency of meeting the world’s spiritual needs. I have family members and acquaintances who have devoted good portions of their adult lives to missions. I thought of their commitment and heart for missions on nearly every page. Now I understand more clearly why they’re so passionate about bringing the gospel message to non-believers.

I appreciate how David Platt addresses how church families’ priorities can be skewed toward wrong priorities. I’ll confess that I’m guilty of thinking my church needs just one more really great youth program, or women’s program, or social media presence to bring people in the door and fill the pews. These may be important outreach tools, but as Platt points out these are not essential traits of a church according to the Bible. His list of essential traits totals 8, and the top 3 are Preach His Word, Share the gospel, Pray fervently and frequently.

I wasn’t so sure what to expect once I realized as a reader I was going to follow Platt and his hiking team through the harsh and rugged Himalayan peaks and villages. At points the content was difficult. I appreciate that such tough subjects were handled with care.

David Platt surely excels as a writer in this book. Each chapter is a polished gem with an important message for Christians. Platt addresses how people must assess how best to use their God given talents for the Lord. He is careful to emphasize how a well thought out plan is needed before launching into action. This preparation is important because poorly thought out plans aren’t sustainable. Likewise he encourages Christians to fully prepare themselves spiritually prior to following a gospel spreading path.

His prose never meanders. It’s concise but also lyrical. I really enjoyed his well written conclusion. Something Needs to Change is an engaging book, you will find impossible to put down. Once you’ve arrived at the end, you’ll take Platt’s message to heart.

I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Holy Roar

212262: Holy Roar: 7 Words That Will Change the Way You Worship Holy Roar: 7 Words That Will Change the Way You Worship

By Chris Tomlin & Darren Whitehead / Thomas Nelson

The title captured my attention. One look at the by-line, and I knew this book was a must have for my personal library. Its structure is marvelous. It’s a look at seven Hebrew words for praise. Each chapter begins with words shared by Pastor Darren Whitehead. His insight on scripture is thought provoking. The selected quotes from history’s great Biblical commentators and pastors are well chosen. These thoughts are immediately followed by Chris Tomlin’s narrative on the creation of some of his great worship anthems. It’s a pairing that’s as smart as honey and tea, and silver and gold. Each chapter closes with a list of Bible verses to look up. You’ll complete this task with enthusiasm and delight in the discovery of reading familiar verses with a fresh outlook.

It’s a reader friendly 128 page book. At its close, you’ll think of friends who should read it next. Holy Roar is a satisfying book for a time of personal devotion. Members of worship teams and small group Bible studies would also all love it.

People who enjoy Christian worship music will never sing a Chris Tomlin song again without appreciating the inspiration behind each creation.

Summer Writing and Reading

I met a June deadline and since then I’ve composed only note card sentences and business emails. My output with the written word over the last month has been meager. Yet, I’ve been busy if you measure my productivity in pounds of honey extracted from my bee hive, ample produce baskets harvested from the gardens, and my research notes from our state’s archives. Yes… pouring over 18th century primary source documents is where I’ve been spending my time. I’ve discovered some real gems back in the vault and among all the cataloged boxes. Facts I’ll use when my next deadline is near.

I’ve always been fascinated with primary source documents. Whether it’s photos, town reports, school reports, or tax inventories; each item has a story to tell. The vast library of digital images we have available at our fingertips is a great research aide. But nothing compares to holding the real thing in my hands.

While I’ve spent hours reading, researching, and interviewing people, I feel each step has opened up five more paths. I haven’t sifted out all the pieces I need, but I will push on. A September deadline is looming. All my inquiries and fact gathering will need to be crafted into a story. One that I hope is of interest to others and worthy of publication.

Writing coaches always tell you to read and read widely. This I’ve done. The best part of the long summer days is settling down after supper for a good stretch of night time reading. I’ve been happily immersed in many books since June, and each one has been a pleasure to read.

I also took a leap and joined a writer’s group. I’m careful with how I invest my membership dues, but this just made sense. I’ll give it a try for a year and decide later if the return on investment is positive.

The writing life is more than choosing active verbs and smart quotes. It’s fair to say, I’ll be a better writer as a result of my hours spent reading and researching.