Book Review: Beloved

BelovedFebruary is here, which means our month of devotional giveaways is over. To those who won books, I’d love to hear what you think of them as you start reading. To those who didn’t win, take a look over the reviews and consider investing a devotional to use in 2016. (My top recommendation remains Daily Light from the Bible.) Before I move on to today’s giveaway, there’s one more winner to announce.

The winner of When God Writes Your Life Story is…

Morgan Huneke

Congratulations, Morgan! I can’t wait to hear what you think. 🙂

And now for today’s book review of Beloved by Rachel Starr Thomson.

“I was always told the Great God’s laws were oppressive, but what you read … this is not oppressive. This is good. I say so as a man who must go home and make reparations for wrongs done. But I will do it.”

Beloved is the final novel in a trilogy allegory of the Old Testament. The stars have long depicted the doom of the chosen people–Isha the Beloved races towards the jaws of the dragon. Beneath the night skies, the residents of the Holy City wantonly defile even the holiest places. Queen Izevel stirs up defiance against the Great God, ardently worshiping the dragon-headed Kimosh while her husband, king of The People, looses himself in wine.

Yet the stars still shine on a faithful remnant. The eye of the Great God rests upon the least likely of souls. Flora Laurentii hears His voice whisper Beloved to her soul and, for the first time in her life, does not feel ashamed. Quivering Recheb finds courage when she should be most afraid. And Alack, the shepherd boy turned prophet, finds a glimmer of hope in a prophecy of doom.

The people must repent. The dragon is read to swallow Isha and destroy the beloved, but the Great God is still willing to save. If you want to change a man, change his god. If you want to change the course of a nation, change the god they worship.

Of all Rachel Starr Thomson‘s books and series, I believe The Prophet Trilogy appeals to the broadest audience. The setting is similar enough to Old Testament times and the laws of nature close enough to our own that readers who are not hard-core speculative fans will be able to enjoy these books.

In every review of Thomson’s books, I try to put words to why they capture me. I don’t think I’ve ever been successful! Thomson has a way of speaking truth through her novels that not many authors can parallel.

So go ahead. Pick up Abaddon’s Eve and keep right on reading.

Guess a Quote [10.12.15]

Voyage of the Dawn Treader [GAQ]We all had a lot of fun with last week’s GAQ (Guess a Quote) post. The quote, which came from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis, has always been one of my favorites from Narnia.

…there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.

As a little kid listening to the radio theater production of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, this line captivated me. Somehow those words coming from Aslan made Narnia seem more real because it linked itself to God and made God seem more accessible because Aslan was teaching the Pevensies how to know Him in our world. It made me so happy when the “new” movie kept that line.

Everyone who guessed got the correct title, series, or both. Congratulations to Emily Ruth, Amanda Beguerie, Brooke, Addyson M. Huneke, Elisabeth Sullivan, Victoria NightSky, proverbs31teen, Jonathan G, Abby, emilydm544, Hanna R, Spencer R, Morgan Huneke, Lina Ruth, narniahannah, Oathofgod, and Sarah D!

To everyone who participated in the Pride & Prejudice quote variation contest, voting for that will go up tomorrow.

Until then, here’s this week’s quote. Since they’re so much fun, I’m staying with the theme of well-loved quotes from well-loved books. This particular quote is also a great reminder in the face of headlines about the depraved practices filmed at Planned Parenthood and the battle being fought for the lives of unborn babies.

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.

Happy Guessing!

Book Review: Comes the Dragon

Comes the DragonJudgement is coming to the people of God, yet they choose to ignore the warnings.

Comes the Dragon is sequel to Abaddon’s Eve, which I reviewed last August. The players remain the same. Flora, Rechab, Alack, and other key players struggle to determine the paths they should walk in an increasingly confusing and dangerous world. By assuming Flora’s name, Rechab has new-found security and freedom, but she finds the burden of decision making almost too heavy to bear. Flora, cast out from the community where she has spent years worshiping God, fears her pagan birth will separate her from the Lord she loves. Alack continues as Kol Abaddon’s companion and apprentice, but his compassionate nature often puts him at odds with his mentor.

For me, Kol Abaddon, the voice of destruction to The People, was the most interesting character in this book. He didn’t receive much “screen time,” but my interest in his character was validated in the epilogue. This nameless prophet is tortured by a pain private between him and God. While Kol Abaddon is God’s mouthpiece, he doesn’t seem to have a particular warm relationship with the Great God he speaks for. And there’s a reason for that. (Read the book to find out what it is. 😉 )

Book Review: Orphan’s Song

Orphan's SongThis book has been sitting on my shelf since I got it for Christmas, waiting to strike my fancy in a moment I was searching for a new read. Fancy struck on a Thursday two weeks ago, but my day was so busy I carried it around all day and only read the first chapter. However, on that Friday my work got canceled because of snow (snow, on March 20th!) , so I ended up plowing through almost the entire book in one day.

The first few chapters had me worried. The story had it’s unique points, but seemed to fall into the tired pattern of many fantasy stories. You know the ones I’m talking about. Poor orphan with mysterious beginnings. Crotchety, abusive guardian. And a randomly talking animal.

Thankfully, uniqueness spun out of the mundane beginnings. The biggest strength of this story was the mystery. Gillian masterfully steered clear of explaining too much too soon. The mystery of The Song and the Songkeeper unravel slowly and require continued reading to discover what’s going on. The roots of pain that hold Amos to his past and cause him to fight destiny are slow reveal themselves. The reader must keep nose to book to learn what the prize the dark soldiers and the children of the Underground are fighting over is and why it’s important. And the talking cat? Well, he’s a mystery too. 😉

Read the synopsis of Orphan’s Song.

Book Review: Abaddon’s Eve

Abaddon's EvenConfession. I have not been reading much lately. In fact, I haven’t finished a book in over two weeks. For someone who needs to post a book review once a week, that’s not a very good thing. 😛 The good news is, I’m sticking to my deadlines for Counted Worthy. Maybe when it releases one of you can guest post a review of it. 😉

Abaddon’s Eve is the last book I finished (Goodreads says I completed it on August 6th). Here’s what I thought of it.

Rechab and Alack, young people on the cusp of adulthood, have no idea how drastically their lives are about to change. Alack wrestles with his genuine but impossible love for Rechab, while Rechab does her best to shield her heart from her imminent and permanent separation from her childhood friend. Their parting occurs far differently than either expected. Kol Abaddon, the crazy prophet from the wilderness, comes to Bethabara preaching destruction on The People of the Great God. When Alack catches a glimpse of the vision, he follows the prophet into the desert to begin his training as a prophet of the Great God. At the same time, Rechab finds an unlikely friend in Flora, a wealthy woman considered to be unlucky. When a foaming servant declares that Rechab is marked for service to a false god, she flees Bethabara with Flora’s retinue. Neither Rechab nor Alack truly know the Great God they now serve, but their journeys will bring them closer to Him.

I really enjoyed this story and look forward to the next book. Anyone who has enjoyed Prophet by R.J. Larson will most certainly like Abaddon’s Eve as well. Though not one of two focal characters, my favorite character in this story is Flora (the rich woman who befriends Rechab). She is introduced as a powerful, smart, savvy woman, but her vulnerability unfurls with the story. She is a seeker, a lover of God who fears she cannot be fully accepted by Him because she is not of The People. She’s a flawed character with great strengths and a beautiful heart. I can’t wait to see where this journey brings all of the characters.

Giveaway!

I read Abaddon’s Eve on my Kindle, so I can lend it to anyone else who has a kindle or kindle app. If you would like to borrow it for 14 days, just leave a comment, and I’ll pick one of you to lend it to.

Also, Prophet is still free for Kindle. If you haven’t read it yet, go for it while it’s still free.

Guest Book Review: Pilgrim’s Progress

A few weeks ago when I mentioned my mom’s upcoming surgery and suggested that some guest book reviews would be nice, Spencer R. kindly submitted several for use here on Leah’s Bookshelf. Because this review has been posted previously on his blog, I’m just going to post a  teaser here and give you the link to his posts. (The reason for this is that Google assumes identical content on two websites indicates plagiarism, and both sites are less likely to get a good rank in a Goggle search.) Enjoy Spencer’s review and be sure to leave a comment for him here or on his site.

Pilgrin's Progress

I recently read John Bunyan’s classic allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress as part of my ‘Great Books’ curriculum for school. Bunyan wrote it while he was imprisoned for not conforming to the state church’s practices in the early 1670’s. It was one of the first times I had read a book that was from that time period so the old English was somewhat of a stretch for me, but I was still able to appreciate his message in the book. One of my favorite parts of the book was the way Bunyan represents death.

Read more on What John Bunyan Teaches us about Death in The Pilgrim’s Progress

How many of you have read Pilgrim’s Progress? What was your favorite part of the story? Have you read any of Bunyan’s other works?

Book Review: Prophet

Prophet

“It’s snowing ashes,” Ela repeated. “I’m going up to the wall to look for the fire.”

What happens when the responsibilities and struggles of a prophet of the Lord are transplanted into fantasy? This book is built around that very premise. Seventeen year old Ela knows that a silver-haired prophet has failed. The Infinite even told her she would die young if she agreed to be His prophet. Yet once she heard His voice, she knew she could never live without it, and so she agreed. Her “yes” launches her into a life of knowing the future. She spends her days pleading with hardened people to change their ways and trust the Infinite before it’s too late. For all her foresight, Ela doesn’t know if they will heed her warnings in time.

I couldn’t tell from the synopsis of this book if I would like it or not. Two of my friends gave it good reviews on Goodreads, so when I saw it at a homeschool conference for a good price I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did! I regret not buying book two while I had the chance. There is a (very) light love element, but it’s not at all offensive. I found Ela to be a relatable main character. Kien was roguishly loveable. And Tsana, Ela’s little sister, was adorable. Best of all, it made me appreciate Old Testament prophets and the Spirit of God on a deeper level.

P.S. I was a little concerned that a female prophet would come off as feminist, but she doesn’t at all. The author does a great job of focusing on “The Infinite” rather than fussing over a girl prophet.

Book Review: The Door Within

*Reposted Review: First posted August 10, 2012*

“What can I do?” Aidan pleaded. “I can’t fight. I even had a middle schooler beat me up once.”

Aidan is upset about his family moves. Lonely and restless, he ventures into his Grandfather’s basement in search of adventure. He doesn’t expect scrolls to magically appear, but they do. When Aidan chooses to believe what the scrolls say, he becomes part of an adventure bigger than he ever imagined. He enters the land of Alleble, and joins the Glimpses of the realm in a fight against the evil Lord Paragor. Can a teenager from the Mirror Realm save many from death?

Great book! I highly recommend The Door Within and the other two books in the trilogy. I read all three of them in a week! The Door Within gets off to a little bit of a slow start, but stick with it. It gains momentum through the whole book (you won’t be able to put it down), and the beginning is important in the grand scheme of things. Allegorical components add rather than distract from the story, and there’s no magic to worry about.

Author: Wayne Thomas Batson
Audience: All Ages
Genre: Christian Fantasy
Pages: 311
Publisher: Tommy Nelson

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