Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Carols of Christmas by Andrew Gant

The Carols of Christmas by Andrew Gant is a collection of 21 favorite Christmas carols and a history lesson of each.  Each song gets a short chapter.  The beginning of the book starts out with an introduction on the beginnings of Christmas carols in the first place-such as did you know that carols started out as not Christmas songs but rather songs of  any celebrations often with dancing.  Eventually they would be at least songs of winter celebrations.  Many of these started out as tunes without words previously composed by others.  This book takes the reader back in history way back often to the country of origin and then takes the reader through the various changes the tune as well as the words changed through the years.  Mr. Gant tells of some of the difficulties with translation into English had with rhyming as well as note matching.  Many of these famous Christmas songs were just familiar tunes often not even Christian songs.  Some started out as children's songs from the playground but others had origins in taverns while others were composed by famous composers.  Each chapter ends with the song's most familiar words and tune from present day. 

This book is a fairly in-depth history lesson of each Christmas carol.  This would be the perfect book for any musical person who is interested in the background of Christmas carols.  It is helpful to know some of the background of the language from which the song originated or possibly Latin as it shows some of the original words in the original language.  I liked this book though was surprised at how deep the book went into each song.  It would be a good book for doing easy research on familiar songs.
I received this book from BookLook for this review.

Waiting for Morning by Karen Kingsbury

Waiting for Morning by Karen Kingsbury is her first book in the Forever Faithful series.  This one tells the hard story of drunk driving.  In this book she tells both sides of this issue.  She doesn't sugarcoat much of anything in this true to life novel.  She tells the story of life for Hannah Ryan after her husband of many years and the love of her life since her elementary school years and her oldest teenage daughter are killed in their SUV while coming home from their yearly camping trip.  Younger daughter Jenny also in the car is seriously injured but survives.  This is not your usual Christian woman faces death with faith and determination and comes out unscathed.  Hannah rejects God and her faith in anger.  Hannah throws herself into the prosecution of the drunk driver, Brian Wesley, and her work on MADD.  She so throws herself into hate for Brian and all drunks that she for the year it takes to bring Brian to justice in the court system ignores her surviving daughter Jenny.  The lawyer for the state wants to make this case be the first case in California which successfully charges a drunk driver with 1st degree murder.  Even with all this which would be a complete novel, the author goes the additional mile and tells the story through the eyes of the drunk driver.  This difficult task is done most excellently.  Brian has grown up in difficult circumstances but has had a few times when someone offered help along the way which he rejected.  Ms. Kingsbury doesn't sugarcoat this story either which no one would expect but she does tell this story with some honest emotion which allows the reader to empathize with the driver if not sympathize.  This book also deals with the legal system and the difficulties of trying to navigate it with success. 

Karen Kingsbury is an author which I love to read but this one is decidedly by far my favorite.  I don't know how she did this but she has written this Christian novel as if she has had history with both the survivors of drunk driving and the drivers.  This book is an excellent read and should be read by anyone but it needs to be in high school and middle school libraries as well as youth church libraries.  Teens in my generation drove drunk and teens today still do.  Teens don't think that this can happen to them or anyone they know.  Teens however need to know and this is a book which is easy to read though emotionally difficult.  I really cannot say enough good about this book.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Bathsheba: A Reluctant Beauty by Angela Hunt

Bathsheba: A Reluctant Beauty by Angela Hunt is the 2nd in Ms. Hunt's A Dangerous Beauty series.  Bathsheba's story like so many of the stories from the Bible are told from the male point of view and this story is certainly no different.  This novel tells the story from the woman's point of view.  It emphasizes that Bathsheba had no choice in this matter.  The King wanted her for his sexual pleasure and she had no choice but to comply.  Ms. Hunt follows the Bible story as far as it goes but she has fleshed out the story to make the short Biblical mentioning into book length and also remaining true to cultural norms of the time.  This book deals with the never mentioned grief that Bathsheba was probably going through after the king has her husband killed so that he can claim her as one of his many wives.  The book deals with the grief that David caused when they had to deal with the death of their first born son.  This book deals with the strength that it took to be a mere woman of the royal haram of the king but still to protect and raise her children during their growing years to became productive adults who would be an asset and leader to God's people. 

I have always been interested in the David and Bathsheba story.  I had always wondered at the amount of blame heaped on Bathsheba.  It had always appeared to me that even though the Bible portrayed Bathsheba as a temptress in the story and partially to blame for all that happened it seemed to me that God recognized that the true sinner was David all the way through the story.  This was a time period when women were mostly property and this was not a well known woman until David brought her into his haram.  She took that and grew from it and became the strong woman that she ended up being.  I recommend this book to anyone interested in reading and learning of the women in the Bible.  Though this is the 2nd in the series I had not read the Esther story and am now eagerly starting that book.  Ms. Hunt thank you for your insight into these strong Biblical women. Without author's like you we would not learn of what it was like to be a woman of that time.
I received this book from BethanyHouse for this review.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ties That Bind by Cindy Woodsmall

Ties That Bind by Cindy Woodsmall is the first book of the new series The Amish of Summer Grove.  The Brennemans are a large Amish family.  They have many financial problems and always have had even for the simple living Amish.  Ariana and her twin Abram are trying to change this by buying the restaurant in town and the former owner made her family give Ariana a period of time to pull the money together to do this.  Ariana has seen Quill in town though.  He is her former love--she is now in love with and planning to marry Rudy-- but now she knows that Quill only comes back into town to help one of the Amish leave the Amish and disappear into the English life.  Quill hints that this person is one of her family and that has her scared to her very bones.  Ariana loves everything about the Amish and cannot imagine life outside of their community.  Once Ariana figures out that it must be Susie, her younger sister she sets about to include her in the restaurant plan to convince her to stay---but is it really Susie or someone that she doesn't even suspect?  Then her parents start going away and visiting with Quill.  What does all this mean? How does it affect Ariana and her plans?  Why does everything have to change? And just who is that Englisher, Skylar Nash?  So many questions to find out read this installment.
I loved this book and the only thing I wished is that the who series was already written so I could read it all now.  I love the way that Ms Woodsmall writes and makes all her characters so realistic.  I am so glad that she has begun this new series for her fans to read.  It is well written and interesting but even the very young could read this series if they have the reading capability because you don't have to worry about language or sexual content.  I would recommend this book for reading.
I received this book from Waterbrook Press for this review.