Wednesday, August 29, 2012

18- Wheeler Jihad by Ken Bontrager

18- Wheeler Jihad by Ken Bontrager is a new fiction novel- a new addition to the emerging genre of post 9/11 terrorist suspense novels.
This book is well researched as the author provides authentic details and facts of the Islamic religion and the concept of Jihad. In fact the author gets behinds the scenes to offer a personal and authentic point of view of the thought process behind Islamic terrorists- making this a well balanced book with minimal religious bias. There are even quotes from the Koran as the devout extremist Islamics pray.
Furthermore, in this Christian novel the author certainly does not neglect to provide the gospel message in simple to understand terms through the main Character, Patricia Scott, an investigator. Ironically, the saving message of the gospel is also portrayed through the Islamic extremist Yasin who has a last minuet conversion and finds himself born again shortly before his bomb is activated. This message communicates to the reader that no one is beyond the hope of Salvation- and that the gift of eternal life is available to all who accept God's gift. Nevertheless religion does not overshadow the plot of this book.
Unlike other "terrorist" detective or suspense literature, this book centers around a unique scenario- if a fleet of 18- wheeler trucks were hijacked by terrorists. There are so many stories of planes and busses being hijacked and bombs planted in suspicious white vans, but this story- with trucks and a trucking business will hit closer to home for many readers- and is quite original. I feel that many everyday ordinary readers will find it appealing. In fact I believe this outreach method will draw in many secular readers providing them with a subtle yet effective opportunity to learn the gospel message while being entertained. This story is certain to appeal to a wide readership- in fact I feel that the secular reader will be drawn to this book, in particular.
It is interesting to note that the author hints at the plausibility of even the president of the US as being involved in a cover up of the terrorist plot to bomb major cities through the hijacked trucks. There are many conspiracy theorists who believe that there is a link with terrorism and our government. One can not help but make parallels with the current presidency. As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Outskirts Press for the purpose of writing this review.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Life Lessons from Pets and Wildlife by James Robinson

Life Lessons from Pets and Wildlife -God of All Creation by James Robinson is an outreach opporunity to reach pet owners andanimal lovers and teach them the basics of the gis  oel mesaage and theology.  Written in simple easy to understand language and illustrated with traditional artwork depicting scenes of animals, pets and nature, this book systematically covers the basics of the message of salvation to the theology of sin, faith and temptation.  Animals are used to present and illustrate biblical concepts such as the imoortance of being aware and alert in a world filled with sin, temptation and evils.  The traits and personalities of animals are used as lessons that may apply to humankind as well.
The simple writing style and the subject matter of animals and wildlife is sure to appeal to younger readers as well.  The same readers who appreciate animal theemed literature classics such as "Old Yeller" and "Where the Red Fern Grows" may also enjoy this book.  As a blogger for Water Brook publishers I received this book for the purpose of writing this review.  The views expressed are my own.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I cannot help but write a blog entry on the prevelance of short, elementary level reviews that i see written by so many bloggers.  A short survey of other reviewers shows the lack of time and thought so many people put into their reviews  It makes me wonder if the publisher or the blogging prigram even reads the reviews. Im just not sure how an adult in good conscious put up a short simpleminded paragraph that is no different from what a third grader may submit for a book report and call it a "review". It is eithe ignorance or dishonesty to spend so little time and thoubht into writing a review.  If I am going to get a free book I will at least take the time and effort to read and review it

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Open Bible NKJV

As a blogger I have had the opportunity to review a number of bibles and bible translations. As a believer I read the bible because it is the word of God. A frequently used translation by Thomas Nelson publishers, the publisher I blog for, uses frequently for their themed bibles the NKJV- New King James Version. The newest bible I am reviewing is the Open Bible.  The NKJV is used for the Open Bible as well.  I really wish that Thomas Nelson would make the Open Bible as well as their other themed bibles available in the new, modern easy to read yet faithful CEV version.  I am unsure as why they do not publish themed bibles with this version at all. As far as the Open Bible,the only downside in my opinion, is the non paragraph format which i was not expecting. . This fomat is not as easy to read when reading longer passages altgough its probably easier if you just intend on finding and reading one particular verse quickly.  Other than that its not suitable for study or everyday reading- usually the linear line by line format seperating indivdual verses is used in the KJV
 The text format is the only downside.  Other than that there are an extensive number of very useful helps.  This includes a 300 page index as well as a detailed section on world ancient archelogical discoveries- with pgotographs. Other scholarly historical fearures include a discussion on apocrapha and other ancient works.   Also included are evangalism tools to help any Christian in defending his faith or sharing the word to new believers .  This is like a bible and history text and theological encyclopedia rolled into one volume!  This bible is impressive but as I mentioned the only downside which i felt detracted from the experience of this bible is the linear text format which i really do not favor and detrects from an otherwise perfect bible.

The NKJV as well as other more literal translations- such as the KJV, NASB, NRSV and ESV tend to be overly literal to the point of being difficult to understand. This is especially evident in the Psalms, and other old testament books as well as the letters in the New Testament. For example, a bible marketed for new belivers titled the "New Believers Bible- Start" ironically, is available in only the literal NKJV, rather than a more user friendly version such as the NCV. The NCV which also is available by the same publisher but under- marketed, would be more appropriate for a new believer or new bible reader. Furthermore, a Max Lucado themed devotional bible is also available in NKJV only and not the more modern yet reliable NCV- New Century Version. For those readers who enjoy Lucado's simple to understand books, the NKJV does a disservice- and a more user friendly version for this themed bible would be more appropriate.
A number of emerging Christian, and rigid individual - "leaders claim that the ESV is the "Bible of the future'—ideal for public worship and private reading, appropriate for adults, youth and children. This puzzles me, since the ESV seems to me to be overly literal—full of archaisms, awkward language, obscure idioms, irregular word order, and a great deal of “Biblish.” Biblish is produced when the translator tries to reproduce the form of the Greek or Hebrew without due consideration for how people actually write or speak. The ESV, like other formal equivalent versions (RSV; NASB; NKJV; NRSV), is a good supplement to versions that use normal English, but is not suitable as a standard Bible for the church. This is because the ESV too often fails the test of 'standard English'"...... according to Bible translator and linguist Wayne Leman in a conference in 2008.
The more literal translations are accurate and trustworthy- great for theologens and scholars and seminary students- in contrast to a paraphrase such the Message which is far, far less literal -to the point of being comedic. As far as a translations for the rest of us- who aren't theologens- as well as new believers, I believe there are perhaps better, more easy to read choices available between in the mid point of the translation spectrum. Sometimes I feel pride is an issue, and that there are some individuals in Church and elsewhere who simply feel smarter and more intelligent when they carry around a NKJV, KJV or ESV. This is nothing more than biblical snobbery. There are many who feel the NIV, the HCSB/ CSB, NLV and other such translations are beneath them. I used to feel that way until I did my own bible studies comparing the texts of passages side by side and saw for myself that modern translations do not obscure or change the meaning. In contrast, the modern translations are enlightening. There is one exception- The Message bible is too paraphrased, intended for entertainment and not serious study. Its a unique paraphrase which is appropriate as a suppliment but it does not replace the bible.
As far as bible translations, there is a spectrum of the ease of reading of a particular translation ranging from beginner/ easy reading levels such as the message and more complex/ literal such as the King James version, and revised standard version. For example, the popular NIV- New International Version, is somewhere in the middle with regard to ease of reading level and undertsanding. The NKJV - New King James Version, in particular, is a bit more literal and is written in somewhat of a higher reading level. Nevertheless, this NKJV is an easy to understand version as well. For those new to the bible entirely, The Message and Living bible as well as NIV versions are easy to read and understand, and are very good options for those who seek to understand the meaning of the bible.

Difficult to read versions such as the Old King James - though very well written and poetic- in a Shakespearian sort of way, do a disservice to the modern or new bible reader. The antique language is difficult for many in this day to understand on their own and makes it prohibitive for many to understand the truths of the bible. Having known many readers of the KJV, who do not even understand the meaning of what they read- indicates that this is not the best translation for those who really seek to know God's word. What is the point of a bible after all if you can not even undertsand it? For those new to the bible or for those who have a difficult to read translation such as the King James Version, who wish to read the bible and actually understand it, I would suggest one of the bible versions with more modern/ contemporary language. While the NKJV is relatively easy to read, it may present a challange to the literacy level of many modern adults. What really seems ironic is when the NKJV, ESV or KJV is printed as a children's bible! When I see this, I can only wonder what child on his or her own can actually read and get anything from it. This is a great diservice to a child- when a child is presented with a bible in archaic English in a tiny text font. I feel that publishers and even parents need to take time to consider visually what a child or teenager will understand when being presented with the bible. There are a number of very good youth bibles and study bibles full of colorful graphics such as the NLB themed study bible, and magazine style bibles in the NCV version which are sure to appeal to younger readers and new bible readers. The NIV and HCSB also have a number study and student bibles too.
As a blogger for Thomas Nelson I received this bible for the purpose of writing this review. The other versions mentioned by other publishers are for comparison only.

The Reason by William Sirls

The new Christian fiction novel, The Reason by William Sirls explores in depth the common human question behind the purpose of suffering and pain, and God's grace.  A dramatic and symbolic storm ushers in a supernatural, impressive event to a small town- a testament to God's real presence. The broken cross serves as  a dramatic and vivid symbol of the world's brokeness- on the individually level and as a society. The quest to repair it, correlates with the pastor's desire to restore or repair the faith of humanity in general, and in particular, his small congregation.  In this everyday world, people for ages have longed for real contact with God- a sign of God's existance or proof.  Even in biblical times, crowds beg Jesus for physical signs- visual, impressive miracles.  A number of parables illustrate the human desire for a real life- physical sign or miracle.  The rich man in the land of the spiritually dead, begged Jesus to send his brothers a sign so that they too could avoid his fate of eternal damnation, and the flock of followers and pharisees asked for miraculous signs, to which Jesus simply replied that the signs we need are in the bible and that physical, and dramatic theatrical signs serve no purpose in bulding true faith.  Jesus' message focuses on faith and grace- which is the theme of this novel.

The story contains an unusual cast of  original ecclectic  characters, which  in of themselves, could constiute their own styories.  James Lindy is the blind minister of the church.  There is the stereotypical young, yet intelligent doctor, who favors scientic reason over faith. In fact depending on faith and grace is a big leap for the doctor as it contradicts her intelliectual background.  Macey- an oncologist, has her path crossed with a young boy with Luekemia. Meanwhile it is no suprise that his mom struggles with the age old complaint and plight of why sometimes God appears not to answer admist our pain.  This is something almost every reader who has experienced a loss, or grief of some sort, can relate to.
For once, a fiction novel explores questions rather than debunking Christian faith.  Everyone at one time another; religious and athiests alike- have questioned, where is God when bad things happen and why does God  seemingly ignore the prayers of good people who are faithful? Even Job's so called friends struggled with the answers to these questions as well as Job himself.  the one thing I found with this book is that it tends to drag on. There are so many sub characters and sub plots that it makes it more the difficult to keep track of everyone. Scenes continually switch between characters and places- in a fast pace yet the story appears to move in slow motion. Additionally, I feel that I would have preferred if the character, Kenneth the carpenter did not actually represent Jesus. Jesus' presence is closely linked with the second coming and for the purpose of this story I feel that it would have been more effective if Kenneth was simply a messenger or angel and not the Lord himself. Furthermore I would have preferred not to have the resurrection of the young boy at his funereal. I feel the story of faith would have been more relevant if the boy simply had died- yet his parents maintained faith regardless. I feel the resurrection element may alienate parents who go through the grief of a child. The story is less plausible and makes it difficult to relate to by the insertion of Jesus as the carpenter and the boy who literally comes back to life at his own funeral. It's just too much of a fairy tale ending
Ironically the author who wrote this  had been  imprisoned for fraud and money laundering. Personally I think this makes him an authority of God's grace, and if anyone can truly write based on faith in God's plan, then William Sirls  has the credentials to do so with authority.  The quest of the characters perhaps mirrors that of the author's in that they are seeking God among pain and grief.  This book is published by Thomas Nelson publishers and I am recieveing this book for the purpose of writing this review.  My opinions are my own. 

To Heaven and Back: A Doctor's Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story byMary C. Neal

To Heaven and Back: A Doctor's Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story byMary C. Neal is a new book in the newly popular genre of "Christian" near death experience autobiographies.  The market is becoming saturated with near death experience based stories that describe heaven and the afterlife in great detail.  It is no wonder- mankind has always had an interest in the spiritual world and afterlife.  People are made to experience eternity and we have questions of course, about heaven, and God.  The thing is, that the answers are to be found in the bible, and I am very cautious of any private revelation that pruports to have visions or answers of the afterlife.

The author, Dr. Mary C. Neal, an  orthopedic surgeon,  experiences a traumatic kayak accident during a South American trip.  Allegedly she drowns- and dies and finds herself experiencing heaven and actually communicates with angels.  The story chronicles her life as well as her  spiritual journey and her detailed and vivid account of heaven. There is an extraordinary amount of detail of the author's life prior to the accident.  I believe that the detail of her life and medical practice is an attempt to increase her credibility.  At times, the extent of personal background seems to be similar to a resume or dissertation as i feel the inclusion of the material is to add confidence in the sanity of the author so as to make the story more legitimate.  Needless to say, her personal experience impacts her awareness and her spiritual understanding.  Yet, this book may simply leave the reader with an unfulfilled desire to have a similar experience as if that is needed to validate a Christian faith. 

This book reminds me of the recently published Heaven is for Real account by pastor Todd Burpo  which also  claims to be an account of a true story. A pastor, writes the account of his son's trip to heaven, that happened during the emergency surgery of his 4 year old son near death experience. While alleged near death experiences are somewhat common, based on the media attention in documentaries, articles and even books, what makes these  stories unique is the fact that they come from credible members of society: medical doctors, or pastors- who are generally respected.

Even though this story is easy to read and easy to follow, it raises spiritually complex issues such as the issue of the legitimacy of private visions apart from revealed scripture. While it is true that some NDE can be ruled out as the side effects of a dying or injured brain, not all can be scientifically ruled out. Some perhaps might be supernatural in nature. Nevertheless that does not mean they should automatically be accepted as biblical in nature or truth. I must admit I am skeptical when it comes to believing modern day visions and NDE. For example, there are so many alleged apparitions of Mary in the Catholic church, that I believe most to be hoaxes, and in other cases, demonic in nature.   Once the reader decides to accept the author's word that this story is legit, it is up to the reader to discern the source or supernatural power behind the NDE. This is where most readers will most likely accept with blind faith that this is a true account and that it is based on biblical truth. This is because most people want to believe this heartwarming and comforting message is true.

Any responsible reader familiar with the bible will be aware that he or she is faced with the task of determining if the experience of the author is spiritually based on truth, or if it perhaps is an indirect attempt of Satan to mislead believers into accepting false information. Paul warned in the letters of the new testement, especially in the book of Galations, that even Satan, and evil spirits can appear as angels of light, deceiving many.  That possibility must be acknowledged by anyone who reads this book. While Paul acknowledged the possibility of personal visions in the ancient church, he himself did not place on any believer the burden of accepting any other private vision other than the message containe din the gospel.  As far as the  details- knowledge could be obtained from evil sources for the purpose of adding "authenticity" and misleading believers into believeing the other aspects of the visions shared. The evil spirits are known for mixing truth with falsehood. We are in a spiritual battle, and nothing is off limits as far as the evil spirits of this world are concerned. they will try all sorts oftricky and decieving deceptions. They will try any underhanded tactic even going so far as using a respected medical doctor, and beloved mother  as tools to mislead others. It isn't always obvious to everyone to sort truth from untruth unless they are firmly grounded in the Holy Spirit. Even those involved in the occult such as palm readers and fortune tellers, can sometimes fortell the future or the past with amazing accuracy with supernatural information supplied by the evil spirit realm. The details of the throne of God, the angels and other aspects are questionable, as to their spiritual authenticity.
As a blogger for Water Brook  I received this book for the purpose of writing this review. It is with caution I would suggest this book to anyone to read. unless of course that reader is willing to take the time to discern, in light of scripture, the validity of the message presented by the author's NDE.

Around the Word in 60 Seconds: The Ultimate Tween Devotional by

Around the Word in 60 Seconds: The Ultimate Tween Devotional by
Mary E. DeMuth is a new devotional book just for pre-teen readers.  The market is saturated with the Christian  devotional genre for adults.  There is a wide range of topics or focus areas for every interest, illness or socio- demographic.  The devotional for young readers in an emerging genre.  Many popular book genres in the adult world  now have a youth counterpart, such as the widely popular secular series "Chicken Soup for the Soul". 

What makes this book appealing to young readers is its visual presentation and its easy to read and relate anecdotes.  The book contains 52 weeks worth of devotionals.  Each week is sub dived into 5 week day readings and a weekend, hands on "to do" idea or project.  The daily readings are short, simple and relevant for a pre-teen.  They include topics on friendship, school, bullying and others.  Unlike ateenaged devotional book that often focuses on "adult" themes topics such as dating and relationships, which would be innapropriate for a younger reader, this book is sure not to offend readers or their parents alike.  The devotionals are supplimented with prayers, activities as well as biblical verses.  This book is a hand on how to instruction book of applying the bible to real life, without the extenisive theology.  The true to life anecdotes add interest and relevance for young readers to really see hpow the bible and God can fit into life.

The real test of this book will be to see the reaction of my 11 year old.  One issue is that this book carries on the theme of the iShine bible series- available for pre teen boys and girls. This book seems to market the iShine bible.  While I find the pocket sized ishine bible to be visually appealing, and the NLT is perfect for young readers, the extremely tiny 6pt font of the bible text is very difficult to read and in my opinion, a deterrent for pre-teens to read the bible. In fact the iShine bible is probably more difficult to read than a traditional "adult" bible.  Young readers may be turned off and discourages by the compact pages of tiny, tightly spaced text.  Basically I feel that young readers will read the shiny colorful bible insert pages, but skip over the bible text entirely.  

As a blogger for I recieved this book from Tyndale publishers for the purpose of writing this review.  My opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Salome's Conversion by Rohn Federbrush

Salome's Conversion by Rohn Federbrush is a unique  fictional account of the gospel from the perspective of Salome.  This work of fiction is reminiscent of an apocrypha text.  Salome is mentioned briefly in the gospels of the new testament of the bible in her close connection with Herod and the be-heading of John the Baptist.  At the prodding of Herodias, Herod's second wife, John the Baptist was beheaded because she was angered and held a grudge when he denounced their marriage as against God's law.  For Herod's birthday, an extravagent party took place- and the main attraction was a suggestive dance performed by Herodias' daughter Solome.  In appreciation for her performance, Herod promised to her, any wish- even up to half of his kingdom.  Herodias urged Salome to ask for the head of John the Baptist.  Even though he was troubled by the request, he didn't want to break his oath before the guests.  Immediatlely he granted the request and "brought his head on a tray, and gave it to the girl, who took it to her mother". Mark 6:28

Federbush paints a picture of Salome as an innocent young girl of integrity and wisdom, who simply was a victim of her parents' contol.  Nevertheless in the brief accounts that mention Salome,  biblical evidence doesn't portray her as an innocent girl of faith and strength.  In fact even Federbrush portrays the young princess as an argumentative and self centered, entitled girl, who is used to having every one cater to her whims and wishes. From the first page, the willful, 14 year old Salome is depicted in a viscious fight with her servant Ide.  In fact, she comes close to ordering her immediate death. Later in this story, this same callous girl- Salome is portrayed as simply a helpless victim that was manipulated inorder to cause John the Baptist's death.   It is difficult to believe that a 14 year old girl would so blindlessly and without question follow such a callous order to ask for the execution of another living soul.  Pehaps the author claims that she was simply a young girl under duress or fear for her life.  Regardless, that still would be insufficient as an excuse for the girl's willing participation with her mother's evil and premeditated plan. 

Nevertheless during the course of the story, there is an attitude change of Salome during her years on the run from Herod's palace as she follows along the sidelines of Jesus' three year ministry.  Salome developes an attitude of faith and kindness with her newfound freedom and security while on the run.  The course of a story takes a turn as it centers on the budding relationship between Salome and the palace guard, Decius. In modern American culture, a relationship between a grown man and a young 14 year old girl would be frowned upon- although the actual marriage and birth of children is depicted as taking place 3 years after Jesus' monistry begins- when she turns 17.  I suspect the target reader for this novel may include other cultures perhaps where such a practice of courtship involving a child is more accepted. 
This work is thorough and well researched in that it relys heavily upon the Gospel accounts of Jesus' ministry.  In fact there are quite a few biblical quotes  from the King James text inserted into the story.  Federbush's work is reminiscent of an apocrypha work- which is normally associated with false biblical texts which bear resemblance to ancient biblical accounts of Jesus' life with critical distortions.  Often such false texts were even attributed to apostles such as the epistle of Thomas.  Apocrypha in general was rejected as  being esoteric, spurious,  or of of questionable authenticity.  Yet many are foolish enough to accept such distorted works  as they usually involve  legendary accounts that are plausible enough to be commonly considered true.  In fact this account of Salome is almost plausible and seemingly authentic  enough to decieve readers who are not familiar with the bible or gospel accounts.  For example, a fictitious conversation is included between Decius and Jesus, while Jesus is on his way to the wilderness for 40 days.  Jesus is portrayed as telling Decius "I'll meet you in Capernaum after 40 days sojourn to the wilderness".  In fact, Jesus' mother, Mary, is depicted as helping to conspire in the plans to safely hide Salome.  It is very unlikely this could ever have occured, but it is recorded in this fictional account nonetheless.  There are many additional fictitious interactions between Mary and the apostles and Jesus himself, with the the main characters Decius and Salome.  Many readers may actually believe this is in fact true due to the heavy use of scripture which is actually quoted in the book.  Basically, this story is interesting as a fictitious scenario of what would actually happen if Salome did actually become a follower of Jesus. I am unclear if the author's intent is to portray this as a plausible, unrecorded account of its she is just telling what she sees as a pure fictional account.  In light of the claim on the back cover of the book:" The King James New Testament enlightened with recent archeological findings..." I am under the impression that the author does indeed see this story as a plausible unrecorded account of Salome.

As a blogger I receieved this book for the purpose of writing this review.  This work would make the perfect addition to the library of any theology or religious  student.  My concern is that those readers unfamiliar with the bible or the gospel accounts of Jesus may actually be naive enough to believe this is an authentic biblical account. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hope for Today Promises Tomorrow by Teske Drake

Mommies With Hope

Hope for Today Promises Tomorrow: Finding Light Beyond the Shadow of Miscarriage or Infant Loss by Teske Drake is a spiritually uplifting book for anyone unfortunate enough to have expreienced pregnancy or infant loss.  There could be no author more qualified to write this book than Teske Drake, who personally experienced the devestating and painful losses of her newborn daughter, as well as having an early miscarriage at six week and a late miscarriage at fourteen weeks.  It is easy to find brief exerpts of advice or a paragraph dedicated for those who experience a loss in almost every pregnancy book or pregnancy related website.  There is a lot of factual quasi- medical information about miscarriage and stillbirth on the internet as well. But very few books are written that are exclusively devoted to pregnancy and infancy loss.  This book is specifically written for the grief stricken woman who had endured a stillbirth or miscarriage.

The author's caring and considerate words personally address the reader with empathy and concern.  She seeks to address the reader as if talking one on one - at least as much as is posssible through a book.  Teske validates the pain and grief that a mother feels after experiencing a loss through miscarriage or stillbirth.  She shows that despite the intense pain and grief that there is hope and that there is still purpose in life. After death of a baby or miscarriage, a woman enters a period of despair and grief- in which there seemingly is no future in sight.   Sadly, society does not recognise the intense grieving felt after miscarriage or stillbirth.  It is not seem as actual death, and most woman are fortunate enough not to have to endure such grief.  Many women grieving the loss of a pregnancy or child feel alone and isolated.

The author uphold the truths of the gospel, using relevant scripture to help the grieving mother.  Each chapters centers around a biblical theme and how it applies to infant and pregnancy loss.  "Hope for today" and "verses to live by" scripture verses are highlighted to place emphasis on relevant promises of God taken from the bible.  In a time when a grieving woman may not have the energy to read through the bible or any book for that matter, Teske singles out appropriate and relevant verses that are sure to renew and inspire.  She encourages the theraputic practice of journaling and throughout the book, in order to guide the reader to reflect on her loss and on healing.

Throughout the book the author includes her own story of loss as well as the anecdotes of other women who have experienced loss.  It is inspiring to hear of woman who have experienced the real and painful loss of a child yet have been able to recover and live on through faith.  There are enough stories of miscarriage and infant loss that all readers can relate to.  There are stories of woman who have never been able to go on to have living children- yet persevere in life with faith and purpose.  There are  miscarriage books and fertility self help books on the market  written simply to encourage a woman to continue with the hope of eventually having a child in the future or to encourage a  woman's efforts of trying to concieve.  But this author acknowledges that there are some woman who may never bear living children, but they still may find spiritual peace and fulfillment. 

While this book is written for all grieving mothers, regardless of religion, this book does not neglect the importance of sharing the lifesaving message of the gospel. The undeniable fact is that apart from God, it is impossible to find purpose and comfort. In the appendex, special sections are dedicated to the gospel message as well as selected detailed accounts of loss experienced by some of the featured women in the book. It is ironic that these stories of loss are referred to as stories of hope.  The account of "Theresa" on page 136 sums up  the definition of hope when she explains, "here I am again, trying to accept not having a child here on earth if that's what God's will for me is, but desperately wanting a child.  I take comfort in knowing I have two children waiting for me in Heaven. I thank God that even though in the eyes of the world they really didn't amount to anything, He loved them enough to die for them.  Ultimately, that is where my hope is." As a blogger I recieved this book published by Kregel Publications for the purpose of writing this review.  I feel this book is essential reading for anyone going through this type of loss.

Cruel Harvest by Fran Elizabeth Grubb

Cruel Harvest: A Memoir by Fran Elizabeth Grubb, is a true graphic account of the physical, emotional and sexual abuse that a woman endured as a young girl at the hands of her disturbed, murdering, abusive pedophile father. While I found this a well written book, this is a true account  of  graphic account of abuse endured by a young girl. It is not written to be entertainment as it is a true- unaltered account  This book is endorsed as an inspritational account of hope and forgiveness in the midst of despair because of the young girls attitude of perseverance.  Despite what she edured- she simply did not give up.  Personally I did not find  enlightement, as I was  simply overcome with the reaction of anger at the injustice.   As a reader, I was stirred with righteous anger and a desire to see the abusive man receive justice- in fact I finished this book in less than a day just for the sole purpose of seeing some justice.  But in the story, that never happened. There is no embellishment to this story.  It is written exactly as the events happened.

Ironically, on the cover Frances is depicted as a little girl- the strain of a physically demanding life is evident.  Yet her proud and confident stance is apparent even in childhood- as if there is a degree of personal or spiritual strength that would always remain untainted and untouched by the horrific events that she endured.  Endearing and quaint, simple clip art,  of a little piece of innocent white cotton stands in stark contrast to the painful reality of having to harvest cotton.  The significance of the cover art becomes obvious within the first few chapters.

In the end of the book, Frances eventually musters the strength to forgive long after the death of her father Broden, when she is confronted with finding his unmarked grave. I felt that this "forgiveness" was "encouraged" by the  well intentioned  husband.  Personally, I found Frances'  husband Wayne, to be a kind hearted and well meaning  but perhaps a bit intrusive. 

What was most striking in this memoir is that Broaden never received what he had coming to him here on this earth. That is not to say that he did not get justice- I believe most justice is not here on earth but in the hands of God.  At most, the father endured a minimal jail sentance, but was eventually freed because of the lack of evidence. Unbelievably there was just not enough evidence despite the fact that he constantly beat his wife almost to the point of death, murdered his own infant daughter and abused his children.   Through no fault of various  kind hearted concerned neighbors, social services, and law enforcement agencies, there was never enough evidence to convict the criminal and to protect the children that were abused and neglected.  The "mother" figures in Frances' life, were perhaps the only sources of temporary relief and happiness but were powerless nevertheless. The  father was able to continue abuse and even murder. Eventually Frances felt powerless as well and internally  struggled as she remained silent despite the number of opportunities to break free.  Even despite the number of opportunities presented for the wife  and children to break free they were in  the grip of dependancy and fear.  Later on in the course of the memoir, the pattern of abuse continued after her mother eventually broke free.  Frances would also see her step mother transform from a strong willed, spirited woman and eventually succumb to the hopelessness and the role of enabler that her biological mother had been.  Because this is a real, unaltered story, there were  loose ends in the story that were not resolved such as the whereabouts of Frances' mother as well as her stepmother, younger stepsister and  half brother. This is acknowledged. As with many things in life, not every answer is found.   I completed this story feeling angered at the lack of justice.  I must admit I did truly wish that Francis did not go through the trouble of purchasing a grave marker for Broden's unmarked grave.   I feel that the grave should have been left to remain unmarked an an appropriate symbol.  I assume though, that her incredible ability to overcome is really what sets her story apart from those abused children who grow up bitter. If  you are a psychology student studying psychology and abuse,this would be a good case study- it is extremely detailed offering insight to abuse from the point of view of the victim.  If you are part of the general population, or a layman it might be a bit too graphic. The  lack of satisfactory resolution, obscures the  inspiration.  Its striking to see how complascent, society in general has become.  Here in this story is a little girl depicted as greateful for even a bruised apple or a clean bed to sleep in, yet how many countless greedy individuals take what they have in life for granted. I am assured without a doubt this author takes no good thing for granted. As a blogger for booksneeze I recieved this book from Thomas Nelson publishers for the purpose of writing this review.