Category Archives: Christianity

Review: The Golden Braid

the golden braidThe Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

After Bitter Greens, I needed a lighter retelling of Rapunzel and this fits the bill so well. Rapunzel is a very capable girl especially noting the medieval setting. She hungered for knowledge though she’s yet to learn to read. She hasn’t had the opportunity so far because she and her mother have moved many times but mostly from village to village. This time, however, they are moving to a large city where Rapunzel hopes there will be a better chance in finding someone to teach her to read.

I don’t usually read Christian fiction and I’m not sure whether I realised this was one when I first requested it off NetGalley but it has been a very interesting experience. Whilst I quite enjoyed the read and am touched by Rapunzel’s simple piety; I was mostly struck by the frequency of prayers. This is probably due to my irregular prayers so really, this proves to be a good encouragement for me to pray more often.

The Golden Braid is a lovely retelling of Rapunzel. She’s definitely not an insipid fool but brave, accomplished, and fairly intelligent. There were moments of frustration where I thought she was blind but truly, her upbringing was very sheltered and it takes time to learn of the world. This is a good wholesome and romantic novel suitable for teens aged 13 and up.

Thanks Thomas Nelson for eARC via NetGalley in exchange of honest review

View all my reviews

Review: Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ

foundinhimFound in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ by Elyse Fitzpatrick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Crossway via NetGalley

To be found in God is a joyous occasion and yet, a lot of the time, we tended to forget amongst the business of our lives. There can never be enough reminders about this, if we are to continue to live a life of faith. This was one reason why I chose to pick this book up –as another point of being reminded that I have been found in Christ and the amazing way that came about.

The first half of the book expounded on Jesus’ incarnation –on what it means, how it could be, and the consequences. And the second half considered these ‘consequences’ – what it means for us to be united with Christ. For each chapter, the main point was explained within a few sub-headings in a very clear and succinct language though not dry at all. There were some personal anecdotes and at times, it felt like the author is speaking directly to the reader. It almost felt like listening to a Sunday sermon; a very good one with a charismatic speaker who is passionate about her subject.  Each chapter ends with a number of questions which can be used for devotional times but also to think a little deeper and personally about each topics.

I’d to share with you the one thing that stayed with me most;

He [Moses] asked the Lord, “Please show me your glory” (Ex 33:18). So God allowed Moses to ascend the mountain once again and lovingly placed him in the cleft or fissure of a rock, covering him with his hand so that his glory might pass by him. God enabled Moses to see him without being killed by the sight. Moses was hidden in a broken rock…

Does the broken rock that protected Moses from God’s glory have a name? Yes, of course. The Son is the rock of ages who was cleft for us, in whom we are to hide to be protected from what would be a deadly holiness. How are we protected? By the very hand of God. In fact, we are hidden in God from God by the Son’s life, death, and resurrection. We can look upon Jesus, the one in whom the whole fullness of God dwells, and not be killed by the sight. He is the Deliverer. He is the point of the story.

Found in Him is a beautifully written book. The author, Elyse Fitzpatrick, was not only able to structure her argument in a concise way but also communicate her passion for Christ and this particular topic. Whilst I didn’t particularly learn anything new, theologically, I was inspired and grateful for the reminder. I want to have a passion for Christ, just like Elyse.

Thank you, Crossway for copy of eARC via NetGalley

View all my reviews

Review: Psalms for Everyone, Part 1: Psalms 1-72

psalmsPsalms for Everyone, Part 1: Psalms 1-72 by John Goldingay
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Westminster John Knox Press via NetGalley

I finished reading The 30-Day Praise Challenge on a high and thought that I’d like to continue this praise by reading through the book of Psalms. At first, I was just going to wade in myself and see how I go but then I came across this title on NetGalley: Psalms for Everyone. I thought this would mean that the target audience of the book will be the average Joe (or Jane) and will probably be within my brain capacity.

The Bible translations I would normally read would either be NIV or ESV and I couldn’t find or even tell which version of the Bible is being used in this book. I read back to front and I must’ve been blind to completely miss it but I did. In any case, I found it fairly hard to get my head around this translation of the Psalms and it caught me off balance. In addition to having had to read an unusual version of the Psalms, I also found it very difficult to read through Goldingjay’s commentaries on the chapters. He wrote approximately a page commentaries per chapter (for some long chapters, the chapters are divided).

The personal anecdotes were ones I loved as they shared of author’s real experiences in life and spiritually. The page length commentaries, however, were quite choppy. The ideas did not flow smoothly from one paragraph to the other. I was actually getting really anxious as to whether I was losing my mind since I was struggling really badly with these commentaries that I asked my non-reading husband to read a chapter or two. His view was that Goldingjay had tried to fit in too many points in one page so that the effect was that we get superficial thoughts over numerous ideas / points. There were instances that I found I didn’t agree with the author though I wonder whether that was a case of misunderstanding (miscommunication).

This book is, unfortunately, not one I’d be recommending to my friends. I think there needs to be some serious editing before it really is for everyone.

Thank you, Westminster John Knox Press for copy of eARC via NetGalley

View all my reviews

Review: The 30-Day Praise Challenge

harlingThe 30-Day Praise Challenge by Becky Harling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of David C. Cook via NetGalley

Being a book-a-holic and reading challenge addict, the first thing which attracted my attention to this book was the word ‘challenge’ in the title. I’m sure many of you will understand where I’m coming from. Reading through the description of the book, what really appeals to me was the 20-minutes per day devotion which include prescribed praise songs. I used to lead a worship team at church and whilst my musical talent is minuscule in comparison to others, music speaks to my soul and I love to praise through songs.

I was really excited when I started this book and I was intentionally disciplined in my daily devotional throughout the 30 days. The first day felt slightly strange to me because of the perspective of the reading; it was as if God was speaking directly to the reader. However, as I take in the direction / purpose of the devotional, I came to enjoy this perspective and to appreciate what God’s perspectives might be in each topics.

The structure of the devotional is:
*Bible verse – to establish the topic and start us thinking in a particular direction
*A reading – written from the perspective of God direct to the reader’s heart on above topic with reference to other verses accompanied by a short paragraph from the author’s own heart
*Music – songs of praise are prescribed to suit topic, most of the time there are 2 but sometimes more
*Prayer – all in continued praises to God
*Journal – conclusion of devotional with a thinking question or two which requires own quiet / thinking / scribbling notes time.

I liked all the songs and loved quite a number of them. Most of them were available on youtube so with today’s connectivity, it was easily accessible. I found the prayers to be ingenious! It was a prayer of praise and yet, in a way it is a reminder to both God and ourselves of what God promises to do which feels like a request but not-a-request. It is praising God for who He is, for His promises, and is phrased unlike a request but really, it was. I’ve probably just made a muddle of it all but that’s the best way I can explain it.

The journals were my downfall. I confess to being one of those busy-unable-to-stay-still-or-quiet-for-one-minute-person. It is completely atrocious, I admit, and this will have to be my challenge next. To stay still for some minutes and meditate on God’s words. I will be getting a copy of this book for myself and a friend (who actually expressed an interest even though not a believer) as I’d like to give it another go especially with the sitting still & meditating section. It has been a wonderful experience and I look forward to learning more from it.

Thank you, David C. Cook via NetGalley for copy of eARC to read & review

View all my reviews

Review: Simply Jesus: Experiencing the One Your Heart Longs For

Simply Jesus: Experiencing the One Your Heart Longs For
Simply Jesus: Experiencing the One Your Heart Longs For by Joseph M. Stowell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

‘Simply Jesus’ – a slight volume (a mere 60 pages) that packed a punch. It reads simply and clearly but it’s made its point and met its purpose.

If you feel something is missing in your Christian walk or even if you wonder if this is it (of being a Christian), you’re probably missing something. Joseph M. Stowell shared that there is more to it – that experiencing Jesus in this life “makes the brightest treasures of life look dull by comparison”. You will be so taken by Jesus that there will be no looking back because you only want more of Jesus.

Asides from some examples and life-stories of how possible it is for ordinary people to have this kind of Jesus experience, this book also included some guidance of how we can have that ultimate experience. These tips may help but only if you’re willing.

Thank you WaterBrook Multnomah via Edelweiss for the privilege to read & review ebook

View all my reviews

Review: Spirit Hunger: Filling Our Deep Longing to Connect with God

Spirit Hunger: Filling Our Deep Longing to Connect with God
Spirit Hunger: Filling Our Deep Longing to Connect with God by Gari Meacham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Zondervan (via NetGalley) – get your own copy from The Book Depository

And once more, a book I read at God’s timing right to my heart. I’ve been feeling a little bit stuck in the rut but right in the first chapter, my heart was moved… Yes, this is exactly it, this is the problem… a ‘Spirit Hunger’, an emptiness, a longing for something…

Gari Meacham took me on a journey to experience God, to trust in Him more and more in all things. She shared from her personal experience from the beginning of her journey with God when she first placed her trust in Him, in seeking Him throughout her life all the ups and downs, her struggles and victories in Christ. She didn’t appear to hold anything back and I really appreciated this as it opened her up as someone whom opinions I could trust.

The other thing I really appreciated in this book is how she continuously referred to the Scripture! It was noticeable that there were verses running throughout the book to support her points or give examples but rather than annoying, I found them to be tremendously helpful and built upon that trust that her faith and her thoughts are Scripture-based.

I needed this book to propel me forward – I finished reading the book on Saturday and was truly touched and longed for that engagement with God that the next morning (Sunday), I bawled my eyes out at church. The sermon of the day, of course, asks how passionate are we about God? If one could cry in the presence of a celeb, then what do you feel in the presence of the Glory of God?

Note: Just to quickly mention that there were significantly lack of capitalisation but as it was a galley, hopefully these will be amended prior to publication. These bits distracted me most!

Thank you Zondervan & NetGalley for the privilege to read & review

View all my reviews