The Masterpiece – Book Review

My daughter gave this book to me as a Mother’s Day present. She does know her mother well. Over the years I have read many of Francine Rivers books both fiction and non-fiction. Her newest book, The Masterpiece, is one of the most riveting books I have ever read. Two people who seem so different on the surface, yet have much more in common than they ever thought possible, come together in this book to discover what God has in store for their lives. Each has their own dark past. One hopes for a better future, while the other has given up believing that hope is possible despite a hunger that can’t be denied.

Roman Velasco, a well-known artist, formerly a teen gang tagger, has a near-death experience while on a road trip with his personal assistant Grace Moore. Although he’s only in his mid-30’s he has a sudden heart attack on a restaurant sidewalk. While others work to bring him back to life, he experiences the terrifying grasp of demons pulling him down to the depths of hell. After just discussing Jesus Christ with Grace, Roman screams for him to save him. The next thing he experiences is seeing a bright light and feeling Jesus take his wrist and pull him to safety while telling the demons to release him.

That scene alone overwhelmed me because many years ago, after escaping an abusive marriage and finally finding healing in Jesus Christ, I asked God to show me what he did in me so that I could help someone else. God gave me three visions. One of those visions was a similar, though not exact, scene that Rivers describes with Roman. Even now, more than twenty years later, I can still hear the demons taunting me. I can still feel the heat from their grasping fingers trying to pull me off that sharp cliff. I can still remember trying to hang on by my fingernails feeling that I was lost. I can also remember Jesus Christ coming to my rescue and demanding that the demons release me because I was his child.

If you have ever doubted that God is real. If you have ever wondered if Jesus will really save you. Whether you are new to the faith or have never had the gospel shared with you, you have to read this book. Rivers writes stories that are realistic, putting her readers in the midst of the story. I promise that once you start this book you won’t be able to put it down until you reach the end. Even though it’s more than 400 pages, I finished it in two nights of reading. Get your copy as soon as possible.

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Book Review – Together Forever (Jody Hedlund) by Mina R Raulston

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres because it is an interesting way to learn about history. Much more interesting than simply reading a history book. Stories about the orphan trains of the mid-1800’s give us a view of the challenges of people to survive during a time of great economic struggle. The first book in this series, With You Always, told about something new to me, that of single women going out on the same trains as orphans, but to obtain employment since there were no jobs left in New York City at that time. This second book tells about the actual orphan trains and the agents charged with placing out children who either had no families or whose families gave them up for one reason or another.

Hedlund uses the tale of the orphan trains to tell the story of two agents, Marianne Neumann, sister to Elise Neumann from Book 1, and Andrew Brady, a teacher, and pastor. Marianne is searching for her youngest sister Sophie while Andrew is escaping a painful past. As the two of them travel west on the train, attempting to find suitable homes for the children in their charge, they learn about each other and about God’s provision in their lives. Hedland tells a wonderful story about history and about God’s unconditional love for his children. I have already put Book 3 in this series, which tells the story of Sophie, on my wishlist for its release later this year.

I want to thank Bethany House for the opportunity to be one of their early readers and obtain books from them in return for posting honest book reviews. For an avid reader, this is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

The Theory of Happily Ever After

I almost didn’t finish this book. I order a lot of books so I couldn’t remember what this was when I first received it. I thought it might be a nonfiction book on marriage. I want to thank the publisher Revell for providing me with a copy of this book so that I can write an honest review. When I read the first few chapters, all I saw was a book that was silly and frivolous. But, I persevered and discovered that this was a novel, a comedic novel on romance. As I read through it I realized that the author had written a somewhat bizarre novel that was more of a caricature of people going through the trials and tribulations of romantic encounters. I can’t imagine anyone that I know going through these experiences. I don’t want to give a spoiler of the actual events, but let’s just say that some of the experiences in this book are at the extremes of the imagination. It is a well-written book, but the comedy is what I would describe as “zany”, which is I’m certain was the author’s intent given the cover art and her other books. Kristen Billerbeck writes zany well, even if this type of story is not exactly my cup of tea.

Book Review – Breaking the Fear Cycle: How to Find Peace for your Anxious Heart by Mina R Raulston

I am so grateful to Revell Books for the ability to participate in their Blogger Book Review program. They provide me with a list of books to choose from and I write an honest review of those books. Most of the time I can give a positive review. Unfortunately, I cannot do that with this book.

The author, Maria Furlough, speaks about fear from her personal experiences. She has evidently lived a life overwhelmed with the spirit of fear, a fear that grew from simple worry to outright panic. It was also compounded by the diagnosis of her unborn child with a syndrome that would cause his death within minutes or hours after his birth. I can’t imagine the pain she endured during her pregnancy and delivery, followed by his death.

But, I do know that her method of fighting fear is not workable for me. She searches countless scriptures about fear, which is fine by itself. But her battle tactic is to read the scriptures to herself and journal her fears in detail. I was taught to fight the devil and his minions with the Word of God directly. When Jesus was in the wilderness and Satan taunted him and tempted him Jesus set the example for how to fight the devil off. He spoke the Word of God back to him. An example is in Matthew 4.

In II Timothy 1:7 it says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Then, in James 4:7 it says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

I grew up with a mother who was the embodiment of the spirit of fear. If I had given voice to my fears through journaling and speaking about them I would have been overtaken by them. But by learning to rebuke the devil and the spirit of fear I have been able to overcome that fear. Does it still attempt to attack me? Yes, on occasion. But, then the Holy Spirit reminds me of the full Armor of God and how to fight the devil with the Sword of the Spirit.

If this battle tactic works for Mrs. Furlough then I pray she becomes adept at it. I would never tell someone to stop fighting in a way that helps them. I just know the more direct approach works for me.

Adamant – Book Review by Mina R Raulston

I have read Lisa Bevere’s books for many years. Her Bible studies are insightful and challenging for women of all ages. Her current book, Adamant is no exception. The subtitle, Finding Truth in a Universe of Opinions, gives a hint as to the content of the book. The definition of adamant means immoveable and unyielding, among other things. In ancient times it was believed to be a stone that hadn’t been discovered yet and for a time was compared to a diamond in its hard and impervious substance. In her book, Ms. Bevere teaches that adamant was not a rock yet to be discovered, but Jesus who is the stone that the builder rejected our cornerstone. Her study is in-depth while at the same time she comes across as personable and vulnerable. I would encourage any woman seeking a serious study of the word to take advantage of Adamant, Finding Truth in a Universe of Opinions.

Blind Betrayal Book Review

Blind Betrayal is the newest book in Nancy Mehl’s  “Defenders of Justice series”. Her lead characters are U.S. Marshals working to get a witness to Washington to testify on an important case. Although the circumstances are somewhat expected, being followed by hired hit men, racing against time, losing contact with their headquarters, etc., the story of how they overcome these challenges is not boring. Join Marshals Casey and E.J. as they as they learn to trust each other again and find a way to complete their mission before it’s too late.

Cold Water (Samuel Parker) Book Review by Mina R Raulston

As thankful as I am to Revell Books for providing me with books to review, I have to say that this book was not one that I enjoyed. It’s not about the writing. I have no problem with the writing. I am just not a fan of scary thrillers. A good mystery, yes. A good crime story, yes. But, this book is thriller through and through. It even has a supernatural touch to it with the “sinister force” that inhabits the main character, Michael. If you like a thriller, then you will love this. But, if you don’t enjoy sitting on the edge of your seat terrified of what will happen next, then you won’t.