(Review) The Way of Glory by Patricia J. Boomsma

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Publisher and Publication Date: Edeleboom Books. November 14, 2018.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 406.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to write a positive review. Complimentary paperback copy provided by the author, Patricia J. Boomsma.
Rating: Very Good.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction. Readers who love medieval history. Adult and young adult audience.

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Praise for The Way of Glory:
“One of the many impressive things about The Way of Glory is how lightly it wears its scrupulous research. This fine novel invites you to lose yourself to the compelling character and tumultuous life of a young woman trying to find God and love at the heart of a crusade rooted in greed and hate. This is a remarkable debut by a writer to watch.” -Naeem Murr, author of The Perfect Man
The Way of Glory convincingly portrays a place, a time, and a people vastly different from our own. Historical fiction is a fantastically difficult genre to get right, but Pat Boomsma manages it with aplomb.” -Pinckney Benedict, author of Dogs of God
The Way of Glory is a riveting read from first page to last, as it expertly traces the trajectories of several compelling characters caught up in the Crusades. As the protagonist, Cate will steal your heart; she’s as complex a fourteen-year-old as you will ever meet, and the fate she struggles against is a complicated and often frightening vortex of forces, made ever richer by the intense evocation and very thoughtful depictions. This is a remarkable novel.” -Fred Leebron, author of Welcome to Christiania

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About the Author:
I grew up in a far southwestern suburb of Chicago among the trees and sloughs of the Cook County Park District, then attended college in Michigan. After graduating, I dreamed of an academic life teaching English literature and began a Ph.D. program at Purdue University. There I concentrated on medieval studies, receiving a Master’s and continuing on for four more years before realizing that no one I knew was finding a permanent, let alone tenure-track, position. So, instead of writing my dissertation I went to law school. I moved to Arizona to escape the brutal midwestern winters and have been practicing law there for over thirty years. My first novel, The Way of Glory, is, in part, an extension of my love for all things medieval.
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Summary:
Cate, a teenage girl from twelfth century England, joins her brothers and aunt on a crusade to save Jerusalem that stops in Hispania to battle the Moors. Life on a battlefield strains the family’s closeness as they confront the terror and contradictions of holy war. Cate’s dreams of sainthood change to those of a husband and children when she falls in love with a soldier, but she finds no peace even after the family settles on land taken from the Moors. Cate’s friendship with a conquered Moor soon leads to impossible choices as she faces the cost of betrayal and the loss of all she’s known.

My Thoughts:
Medieval history is one of my favorite genres. I sometimes go through periods of reading time where this is the only type of book read.
The main reason I gave The Way of Glory a very good rating is because of the details of life during this historical period.
The main character is Cate. She is 14. She has two older brothers, a knight, and a future priest. They have other siblings and parents who do not have strong parts in the story. Cate’s aunt, Mary, is a strong character. Mary is a mature anchor in the story versus Cate’s impulsive immaturity.
Cate’s immaturity is irrational, selfish; and is in itself a theme that later leads to a disaster. Cate is the main character but I disliked her to the point of annoyance.
Mary is a character I’d like to read more about. She has knowledge and wisdom behind eyes that take in a mature perspective. However, making Mary the main character would change the whole story.
Cate wants to be given a mature responsibility. Mary is going to travel as a pilgrim with the soldiers who are “fighting for Christ” against the Moors. Mary can cook. She has knowledge of medicinal arts. And, she will care for the wounded soldiers. Cate and Mary will work together as a team ministering to the men who are fighting. However, Cate’s immaturity will display itself.

Reasons why I love The Way of Glory:
•The descriptions of everyday life in England: family life, church, food, role of women, priesthood, and knights training. And, early in the story a mystery surrounding a death. The village sheriff gave me a view of how a crime is investigated.
•The descriptions of how injured people were cared for during battle.
•Through Cate’s fresh lens I saw her world. The traveling by ship, plants, animals, buildings, bridges, ports, and a lighthouse.
•The people of Hispania. Their language and culture is interesting. Their culture versus the English culture was shown in the story.
•The feelings people had about the crusades. How they felt in England versus how they felt after arriving in a new land, and later, after the fighting began.

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(Review) The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks That Matter by Lori Stanley Roeleveld

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Publisher and Publication Date: Kregel. February 19, 2019.
Genre: Nonfiction. Communication.
Pages: 240.
Source: NetGalley ebook. I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.
Audience: Christian readers who want to learn to engage in hard conversations.

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I was not raised to be a communicator. Communication was not encouraged in the home where I grew up. My parents wrestled with communicating, both choosing to communicate in polar opposite ways. And, unfortunately the boys I dated, and the man I married, did not communicate effectively. Even as a child I desperately wanted to communicate well. It has come about over the course of many years, I have learned to be a better communicator. I’m not there yet. It is a work in progress.
After an email from Kregel about this book choice for review, I was immediately drawn to it. I enjoyed reading The Art of Hard Conversations and feel it is an excellent tool. I actually took eight pages of notes while reading the book!

The Art of Hard Conversation is divided in three parts, holding 14 units, with lessons in each unit:
1. Perspectives and Personalities-Understanding and Embracing the Challenge
2. Prepare for Success
3. Putting the Art into Practice

The introduction title is a question: Why Bother Having Hard Conversations? (Why Is It an Art?)
The reason is our conversations “could impact someone’s life forever.”
Conversations cover a large territory, whether it is people we work with or family. The most important conversation is sharing the Gospel with someone.
The Art of Hard Conversations is compared to “martial art” and “performing art.”
The lessons in each unit have an introduction Scripture, illustration, teaching points, and an ARTwork section. The ARTwork section has questions for reflection, Bible reading, and an activity for practice.
Early in the book, Unit 1, there are three types of people explained: hawk-swooping down to a conversation; a turtle-slow at talking or responding; and a chameleon who modifies “without compromising our message.”

Reasons why I love this book:
•Roeleveld teaches several things that I benefited from immediately: don’t try to be a hero in the conversation, and don’t try to change the other person. My task is to communicate.
•The illustrations in the lessons are broad and varied examples all readers can relate to and learn.
•Something I knew but liked hearing: to remain silent is sometimes the right thing to do.
•Six important questions to ask before a hard conversation takes place.
•Prep our conversation beforehand. For example: write out on paper what we want to talk about. This helps us to be clear.
•Be careful about the emotions going on during the conversation. God is my strength and anchor, and not my fears and feelings.
•”God doesn’t hold us responsible for other people’s feelings, and we shouldn’t take that on.”
•Just because I feel the urge to talk about something doesn’t mean it’s the right time to do so.
•Later in the book boundaries are discusses. This includes a section on dealing with someone who has painful memories of other hard conversations.
•Redemptive speech. This is something I’m learning as a children’s leader in Bible Study Fellowship. Redemptive words hold love, truth, and are Biblical.

Final Thoughts:
The Art of Hard Conversations is a jewel. It is filled with knowledge, wisdom, and applicable for all areas of life. The book can be read cover to cover or in sections. It is a great book to stay on the book shelf for future help. It is a great book for small groups or couples who want to work on conversation.

 

 

(Review) Book Girl: A Journey through the Treasures & Transforming Power of a Reading Life by Sarah Clarkson

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Publisher and Publication Date: Tyndale Momentum. September 4, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction. Books. Reading.
Pages: 288.
Source: Library.
Rating: Very good.
Audience: People who read books about reading!

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I love books about books and reading. A book loving person will be drawn to a book like this!

Book Girl is a personable, entertaining, revealing look about a life long love of books.
Book Girl has chapters with themes. For example: classics to read, poetry, praying, brave women, spiritual classics, and biographies. Clarkson explains why the books are on each list.
Book Girl shares why reading books creates a different view of life, as opposed to those who do not read. The world a book reader understands is vast and varied.
I love it that Clarkson helps me understand why books have brought her growth, meaning, and joy.
A strong point Clarkson brought up is how social media is distracting. It is distracting in how it keeps the eyes busy with enticing visual activity. Reading is a solitude activity requiring the disciplined reading of words.

A short list of books recommended:
God Smuggler by Brother Andrew
A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot
Christy by Catherine Marshall
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Beowulf 
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Knowledge of God by J. I. Packer
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
The Best Poems of the English Language: From Chaucer through Robert Frost by Harold Bloom

(Review) Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World by Max Lucado

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Publisher and Publication Date: Thomas Nelson. 2017.
Genre: Christian nonfiction. Anxiety.
Pages: 240.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Excellent.
Audience: The book is written from the pen of a Christian pastor. The audience who looks at this book for purchase will primarily be Christians. However, there is a wealth of knowledge and help for people struggling with anxiety.

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I’ve read several books by Max Lucado. Anxious for Nothing is probably one of my favorites.

I’m seeing two recurring subjects in Christian nonfiction: anxiety and suffering.
Max Lucado states on page five, anxiety is the number one mental health problem with women, and it is second with men.
I know several people who have been diagnosed and are on medicine for anxiety. Some of these people have big stresses in their lives. For example: special needs kids, financial hardship, medical problems, marriage crisis, PTSD, and caring for aging parents. I listen to them about what is going on in their lives. I’m apprehensive about telling the person who has anxiety anything that may come off as what they are going through is trivial. And I’m preaching to the choir, because that list of big stresses in people’s lives is my own immediate family. Anxious for Nothing is just what I needed to read. Some of the illustrations and quotes have stayed with me long after reading.

Some of my favorite quotes:
“The mind cannot at the same time be full of God and full of fear.” Page 32.
“The widest river in the world is not the Mississippi, Amazon, or Nile. The widest river on earth is a body of water called If only.” Page 93.
“The good life begins, not when circumstances change, but when our attitude toward them does.” Page 93.

The book is divided into four sections with eleven chapters:
1. “Celebrate God’s Goodness.” This section is about rejoicing in the Lord despite circumstances.
2. “Ask God For Help.” Knowing God is in control and remain calm.
3. “Leave Your Concerns With Him.” Have a focus on gratitude.
4. “Meditate On Good Things.” The importance of my thinking. The type of thoughts that I think about.

My favorite part of the book is in the fourth section. Lucado encourages me to think like an air traffic controller. I am to select my thought pattern, like an air traffic controller decides when a plane takes off or lands. I decide what to think about. I really am in control of what I think about.
Gratitude. This is a word that feels like the last thing to do during a time of anxiety. Gratitude keeps me focused on the present. Gratitude takes my mind off the pain of yesterday and the worry of the future. It keeps us grounded in the gratitude of today.

The main part of the book ends at page 152.
On page 153 begins “Questions For Reflection.”
On page 201 is Scriptures that covers each of the eleven chapters.
The last two sections is “Notes,” and “The Lucado Reader’s Guide.” In this last part, Lucado’s books are organized in themes. For example, if you are struggling with “fear and worry” or want to read more about “peace.”

I consider Anxious For Nothing an excellent tool. A tool that helps combat anxiety.

(Review) Fire Road: The Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness and Peace by Kim Phuc Phan Thi

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Publisher and Publication Date: Tyndale Momentum. October 3, 2017.
Genre: Nonfiction. Autobiography.
Pages: 336.
Source: Library.
Rating: Excellent.
Audience: Readers who love autobiographies, Vietnam war history; and those who want to read about the power of forgiveness and peace.

23 illustrations

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Summary:
Before the spring of 1972, the war seemed far removed from Kim’s village of Trang Bang, Vietnam. Men in black pajamas, strangers, began coming through the village in the night. These men were the Viet Cong. In June 1972, she and her family fled to a temple hoping it was a safe place from a bombing, but a plane flying low dropped a bomb with Napalm. It was during this napalm attack that she was burned. Kim’s story shows a harrowing life from the napalm burning. Her ordeal of the burned skin removal, skin grafting, and no medicine for pain is heartbreaking. The book follows her life through to the end of the war, Cambodian’s Kampucheans, family’s survival, college years, and a chance of escape for a better life.
Kim’s story is a focus on her personally. Her feelings about the burns and its life sentence of pain. But, the story reveals her Christian belief, which includes forgiveness and peace to all people who had caused suffering.

My Thoughts:
Several reasons led me to give this book an excellent rating.
•This is not a political book. Kim’s account of her life is through the lens of reflection. She was an innocent child swept up in a war.
•Kim’s story gave me a view of the Vietnam War from a child’s perspective.
•The burns that Kim had gave me a view of the treatment that was used on her. The treatments that were used are followed through the years. Especially the modern advancement of what can be done medically.
•Kim’s story is ultimately one of hope and peace, despite the suffering of the war and her burns.