How Will the World End by Jeramie Rinne

Book description:

Christians believe that history is moving towards a dramatic conclusion – that one day Jesus Christ will return in glory to judge the living and the dead. But there seem to be so many different views about how this will happen, and when it will take place. How can we make sense of it all?

This short, readable book explains clearly and simply the liberating reality of what the Bible is actually saying about the return of Christ and the end of the world.

My review:

I really enjoyed this short book.  It is a very quick read, but filled with information.  What Rinne does so well is discuss the end times without interjecting his opinion.  I’ve read a lot of books on the subject of eschatology and found that I frequently either agree or disagree strongly with what the author is saying.  However, Rinne successfully avoids engaging in arguments and focuses on what the Bible has to say about the end times.

I found this book very easy to read and understand.  I think it would make a great book for someone who is just becoming interested in reading about eschatology.  It doesn’t go too in-depth or get too technical, but is a great resource.  Rinne does a great job in explaining his ideas of what will happen and providing a Biblical reference for his opinions and conjectures.  I particularly liked the way he encouraged readers to not focus so much on the when, but on the preparedness.  I think it is a wise piece of advice.  I also really enjoyed his view of the argument of the Rapture.  It was brilliant!

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in eschatology or has questions about the end times.  I look forward to reading other books in this series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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Battle for Cannibal Island by Marianne Hering and Wayne Thomas Batson

Book description:

It’s 1852 and cousins Patrick and Beth sail to Fiji on the HMS Calliope under the command of Captain James E. Home. They arrive at the islands to find that the Christian Fijians are at war with the non-Christian Fijians. Missionary James Calvert is trying to make peace and suggests that the captain allow peace negotiations on board the British vessel. Patrick and Beth learn about sacrificial living when they observe Calvert’s determination to live on Fiji despite the dangers and impoverished conditions and that he is willing to risk his life to live as Jesus would.

My review:

This series continues to be a great way for young readers to learn about history and historical figures in an interesting, age-appropriate way.  Hering and Batson deliver an exciting plot and interesting illustrations that pull children into the story.  What I think is the best thing about this book is that it gives children an idea about who James Calvert was and what he did so that when they study him later as they grow and learn more in-depth history, they will already be familiar with him.

This was one of my more favorite books of the series as I appreciate the message in the book and the conversations it sparked as we read it together.  If you are looking for a great book for beginning chapter readers or as a read-aloud for younger children, this is a great book.  The Imagination Station series continues  to provide historically accurate, engaging stories with great messages.  On a side note, even though it is a series, the books do not have to be read in order, which is a big selling point for me!

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Annison’s Risk by Paul McCusker

Book description:

A game of hide-and-seek takes Maddy Nicholaivitch to Marus, where she is taken in by a beautiful princess who has just married the conquering king. After overhearing the secret plans of the king’s most trusted advisor, Maddy must decide if her loyalty to the princess is worth the price of her life. Based on the biblical story of Esther, Annison’s Risk takes readers on a journey with a queen who is willing to risk her life in order to save her people. Any fan of Tolkien will appreciate this fantasy story, and with a new cover and interior graphics, it’s better than ever!

My review:

McCusker has a gift for bringing Bible stories to life in a way that is easy for younger readers to read, understand, and enjoy.  Younger readers might read the story of Esther in the Bible and not identify with her.  However, Maddy seems like a regular girl that many readers might identify with and then be encouraged and motivated to read the real story.  Alternately, readers might read this story first, and then at a later time encounter the story of Esther and be excited to make the connection between the two stories.

I’m not a huge fan of fantasy writing, but this book is easy to follow and appreciate.  The characters are interesting and endearing, and the plot keeps you on your toes and makes you want to keep reading.  I think this story will pull in even the most reluctant readers.

If you are looking for a book with a good message for tween readers, this is a great choice!  Be aware that this is book three of the Adventures in Odyssey series, and while it is not necessary to have read the first two to enjoy this one, I think it makes the story better if you have already read them.

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The Life: An Outreach Biblezine by Tyndale and Youth for Christ

Description:

A refreshingly unconventional Biblezine for spiritually curious teens. A full-out visual feast, presenting timeless scriptural truth with unique energy and passion. The Life moves teens beyond religion to an introduction to Jesus’ personal story and his Word. Powered by the clear and accessible New Living Translation.

The Life was collaboratively developed in partnership with Youth for Christ, whose mission is to bring the message of Jesus to young people across the world. Youth for Christ has more than 160 chapters impacting thousands of communities.

The New Living Translation breathes life into even the most difficult-to-understand Bible passages, but even more powerful are stories of how people’s lives are changing as the words speak directly to their hearts.

My review:

I have mixed feelings about this book.  I wanted to be really excited about this book that is geared toward teens.  I am a big fan of the New Living Translation because the language is easy to understand and absorb.  I really liked that aspect of the book.  I think the size and the graphics are great for the target audience.  The images are visually compelling and the cover makes a bold statement.

However, there were a few things that I didn’t particularly care for about the book.  I know the publishers wanted intending for it to have a magazine-like feel, so they had the stories skip over pages and inserted different stories in between the pages in a typical magazine format.  Unfortunately, the pages themselves were formatted more like a regular book, so I didn’t quite appreciate the effort.

Ultimately, what I liked the least about this book is that it reminded me of the brochures and booklets that some religious groups pass out as they canvass the neighborhoods on Saturday mornings.  For me, I felt that the similarity to some of those materials cheapened the wonderful Gospel that is included in the pages of this book.

This might be a good way to introduce teens to Jesus and the story of his life, but I think there are other books out there that are better.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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Passages Volume 1: The Marus Manuscripts by Paul McCusker

Book description:

Arin’s Judgment: One minute, Wade Mullins is at home, attempting to destroy top-secret drawings for the atomic bomb. The next minute, he’s in an alternate world staring at a strange prophet who says Wade is the final sign, an end-time omen of a culture on the verge of annihilation.

Darien’s Rise: Anna wanted superpowers, but now she’s not so sure after being transported to a new planet. She sees visions of the future. And her brother Kyle is a bodyguard who can’t fail. But both of their powers are only used to help Darien, the rightful heir to the throne of Marus. Darien is being held by a man so evil, not even Anna and Kyle can save him.

Annison’s Risk: Maddy finds herself in a strange new land called Marus where a conquering king is about to marry a princess. The king’s most trusted adviser is hatching an evil plot to stamp out followers of the “old faith,” and Maddy discovers that plan includes the new princess. Should Maddy reveal the truth and usher in political chaos? Or will the princess have to give up her life to bring peace?

My review:

I was already a fan of Paul McCusker’s writing for kids from the Imagination Station books he has co-written with Marianne Hering, so I was excited to read this one.  I was a little hesitant because I am not typically a fan of fantasy stories with made-up places, but I really enjoyed this book.  McCusker’s writing is easy to read, the plots move along quickly, and the characters are engaging, especially to the target audience.

The best part about this book is that it includes three stories in one.  It feels like a bonus to read from one to the next without having to stop and get another book!  I love the way that McCusker takes Bible stories and retells them in a way that makes them easily accessible for younger readers.  It reminds me of the way Francine Rivers does the same thing for adults.  For me, it makes the Bible stories more personal and gives me a greater appreciation and understanding of them when I go back and read them in the Bible.

This is a great book for younger readers (the target age is 8-12), especially if they are reluctant readers.  It is a very quick and interesting read!

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Blind Descent by Brian Dickinson

Book description:

Former Navy rescue swimmer Brian Dickinson was roughly 1,000 feet from the summit of Mount Everest—also known as “the death zone”—when his Sherpa became ill and had to turn back, leaving Brian with a difficult decision: should he continue to push for the summit, or head back down the mountain? After carefully weighing the options, Brian decided to continue toward the summit—alone. Four hours later, Brian solo summited the highest peak in the world. But the celebration was short-lived. After taking a few pictures, Brian radioed his team to let them know he had summited safely, and got ready to begin his descent. Suddenly, his vision became blurry, his eyes started to burn, and within seconds, he was rendered almost completely blind. All alone at 29,035 feet, low on oxygen, and stricken with snow blindness, Brian was forced to inch his way back down the mountain relying only on his Navy survival training, his gut instinct, and his faith. In Blind Descent, Brian recounts—in fantastic detail—his extraordinary experience on Everest, demonstrating that no matter how dire our circumstances, there is no challenge too big for God.

My review:

When thinking of mountain climbing, my interest level is very low.  In fact, throughout the story, I identified far more with Dickinson’s wife, than with him.  However, even though I was not that interested in the mountain climbing aspect of the story, I enjoyed this book a lot.

I learned so much more about mountain climbing than I ever imagined I would ever know!  Dickinson’s description of the process of climbing Everest was eye-opening!  I never imagined it would be a two-month process due to acclimating and the up and down climbs.  I liked the way Dickinson wove his faith throughout the story, too.  Some people are put off by too much “preachiness” or criticize books written by Christians as being “not Christian enough”.  Dickinson hits just the right tone, he shares his faith as it is, as integral part of his life and his journey on Everest.

This book was so well-written that even though I know I will never physically climb Everest, I feel as if a part of me did along with Dickinson.  The only tiny criticism I have is that I would have liked to read more about the Sherpas.  It kind of seems like they are the unsung heroes of climbing Everest.  What an extreme job!  They provide hospitality at 20,000+ feet while carrying supplies and cooking meals and setting up camp.  Dickinson speaks about Pasang, his Sherpa, quite a bit but I wanted to read more!

This is a great book for people who are fans of climbing as well as people who are not.  If you have ever wondered what it would be like to climb Mt. Everest, read this book and then you will know!

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Thirty Days in 1 Corinthians 13 by Pam Forster

Book description:

It’s not easy, getting into the Word when your house is full of little ones who need you twenty-four hours a day—but this study will help!

Here is a simple but deep approach to Bible study, divided into bite-size portions that will leave you encouraged and excited as you discover that you do have time for meaningful Bible study.

By giving you bite-size study assignments, five to ten minutes per day for thirty days, this book will help you make time for a deep and meaningful Bible study of 1 Corinthians 13, where we learn how to live in true, Christ-like love.

Besides your own five to ten-minute daily study, this book also includes daily ideas for including your children in your Bible study.

My review:

Who knew you could get so much out of spending just five minutes a day in one chapter of the Bible in just one month!  I learned a lot while completing this Bible study and have gained a new understanding and appreciation for 1 Corinthians 13.  This was one of my favorite chapters in the Bible even before I did the study, so perhaps I was a little biased, but I think anyone could get a lot out of this study.

When I first started reading the book, I wasn’t aware that Forster included activities to use with your children.  That was a great bonus, and made the study even better for me.  Another aspect of this book that I found particularly helpful was that Forster included a day each week to use as a catch-up day or for further study.  Sometimes things come up and despite my best efforts, I miss a day of study.  In other studies I have done, I’ve missed a day here and there and then it became impossible to get back on track.  Having a catch up day took a lot of pressure off, so I didn’t have to focus so much on staying on track, but on studying the Bible.

If you are a busy mom looking for a study, especially one that has ideas to utilize with your little ones, this is a great choice.  You will walk away at the end of 30 days with a great understanding of love.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookCrash in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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