Friday, February 14, 2014

Bible Review: NIV Essentials Study Bible

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I received a copy of the new “NIV Essentials Study Bible,” and decided to interrupt my usual study of the ESV bible by reading through some of the book of Exodus and evaluating its notes, references, and overall presentation style. Upon evaluation, I believe that this study bible is a good resource for the study of scripture, especially for a new believer– although I never recommend an NIV translation later than 1984 because the modern translations tend to use more seeker friendly language in order to reduce the impact and seriousness of teachings like hell and sin.

While I didn’t read every study note and comment, those which I did read had some in depth information that I considered very insightful. This bible is packed with lots of useful information that will definitely expand your knowledge of the bible text, the Middle eastern culture of biblical times, and archeological discoveries proving the accuracy of the bible.

Besides the issues that I have with modern translations of the NIV, a problem I found was that some of the commentaries tried to scientifically explain how God performed certain miracles which can only be mere speculation yet were stated as facts. We don't need to know exactly how God does a miracle. Our focus should be on the fact that God does miracles, period. The other downside to this bible is that I found it slightly heavy and inconvenient to carry.

While I may not agree with all of the comments, I didn’t find any of them out of context.  Overall it's a great resource for students of scripture that seek to gain a deeper understanding of God's word. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.

** Many thanks to the publisher and BookLook Blogger for providing a free copy of this Bible in exchange for an honest review, which has been provided by a guest reviewer ** 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Review: The Beloved Daughter by Alana Terry

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"In a small North Korean village, a young girl struggles to survive. It is her father's faith, not the famine of North Hamyong Province, that most threatens Chung-Cha's well-being.
    
"The Beloved Daughter" follows Chung-Cha into one of the most notorious prison camps the contemporary free world has known. Her crime? Being the daughter of a Christian"

The Beloved Daughter is a thought provoking story of faith, loss, and God's redemption. This story is not for those with soft stomachs. Alana Terry delivers the gritty details of life in North Korea through the character of Chung-Cha.  My eyes were opened to the reality of life in North Korean prison camps. Hopelessness and sorrow permeate the characters' lives in The Beloved Daughter. But how wonderful it is to read of Jesus' redemption even amidst the prison camps of North Korea!

Alana managed to keep a tight balance between overcast moments and moments when a glimpse of the sun shone through. This book was not all sorrow. Seeing the Christian church flourish among the barren wilderness of godlessness was encouraging and awe-inspiring. And Alana crafted a plot that– despite its serious tone– was engaging and interesting. Because of the heart-wrenching circumstances thrust upon Chung-Cha, I immediately rooted for her spiritual and physical deliverance. And a certain revelation about her father brought both joy and sorrow to my heart.

Reading this book allows a reader to truly count their blessings and pray more earnestly for our persecuted Brothers and Sisters. Chung-Cha's story is one filled with pain, hope, betrayal, love and sorrow. I was aching for a peaceful and joyful ending, yet, even in this, Alana remains true to the story. This book will take you out of your comfort zone, reveal a glimpse into the life of North Korea, and, God willing, leave you with thankfulness in your heart that you can freely know and serve Jesus Christ. I give this book 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.

** Much thanks to the author and Bookfun.org for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given **

Saturday, February 1, 2014

My Top Ten Books of 2013/CBRB Awards

Top Ten Christian Fiction Books of 2013 and CBRB Awards

  #10: Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund 
Read My Reviewhttp://christianbookreviewblog.blogspot.com/2013/10/book-review-rebellious-heart-by-jody.html
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#9: Shattered by Dani Pettrey
Read My Review 
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#8: Anomaly by Krista Mcgee 
Read My Review
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#7: Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell
Read My Review
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#6: Wings Of Glass by Gina Holmes
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A glimpse into the life of a broken woman in an abusive relationship, Wings of Glass is the stirring tale of Penny Taylor. The fact that the author wrote the book as if Penny were penning a letter to her son explaining the painful events leading to his father's absence caused the book to come alive. And experiencing the events solely from Penny's point of view allowed me to feel her pain more deeply. Surprisingly, Penny emanated a certain strength that I greatly admired. For fans of Women's fiction that digs deep into the heart, I highly recommend Wings of Glass!

#5: Storm by Evan Angler
Read My Review
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#4: The Offering by Angela Hunt
Read My Review 
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#3: Captives by Jill Williamson
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* I'm almost finished reading Outcasts, the second book in this series, and it is even better than this one. I already have my first book privileged to be included on my 2014 list;-)

#2: Unbreakable by Nancy Mehl
Read My Review
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#1: The Inner Society by Melinda Bohannon
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The Inner Society by Melinda Bohannon was such an unanticipated surprise! This book delivered much more than I had expected. I love suspense and I love mystery. This book incorporated both. 

And What. A. Ride.

I must have forgotten to buckle my seat-belt during the first page because I was in for some exciting rough times from the ditches and potholes I encountered. Melinda weaved such an intricate mystery that, when it was finally all revealed, I was in for a shock– my car must have crashed into a tree. And the suspense was so high that I don't think I even had time to recover from my crash– nor did I want to;-)

Yet, amidst the mystery and suspense there was a depth to Melinda's writing that contrasted well with the plot. I was still able to become acquainted with the main character, Maggie Kraus, as well as with some of the secondary characters. The author dealt with some important issues and didn't insulate her writing with bubble-wrap. I enjoyed the rawness of her writing that still maintained a level appropriate for teens (since this is Young Adult fiction that anyone could enjoy). And any book that includes a bad-boy character coming to Christ is always one of my favorites.

Prepared to be surprised with The Inner Society, like I most certainly was! For this reason The Inner Society by Melinda Bohannon has earned first place in my top ten books of 2013.

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CBRB Best Hero Award goes to... Ebenezer Miller from Unbreakable by Nancy Mehl




CBRB Best Heroine Award goes to... Penny Taylor from Wings of Glass by Gina  Holmes




CBRB Best Plot Award goes to... The Inner Society by Melinda Bohannon




CBRB will not be awarding a CBRB Best Child Award for 2013 due to the fact that I do not recall any of the books I've read, released in 2013, including a child character. 
(However, I was able to– finally– read A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman and little Katie was just the c-u-test! As a side-note, A passion Most Pure is FREE on Amazon right now)
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Honorable Mentions
~ The Beloved Daughter by Alana Terry