Saturday, December 19, 2009

Book Review: Cottonwood Whispers

At first I hesitated to accept this complimentary copy of Cottonwood Whispers from Tyndale House Publishers for review. It's a sequel, and I haven't read the first book. But that wasn't a problem. Author Jennifer Erin Valent subtly refers to the previous story from time to time while keeping this story fully self-contained. I appreciated that! I wasn't confused and didn't feel I'd missed anything. I just enjoyed reading a well-written story about a 17-year-old girl who finds herself caught in the middle of a serious community crisis.

The story is set in the South in 1936. Jessilyn Lassiter lives with her parents and adopted sister/best friend Gemma Teague. She also has a crush on the “boy-next-door” who's really a man in his early 20's trying to decide if Jessilyn has grown up enough for him yet or not. When a three-year-old neighbor is hit by a car and dies, an innocent man is charged with the crime. Jessilyn and Gemma struggle to bring truth to light without bringing harm to their family.

Cottonwood Whispers is a coming of age story full of strong characters, deep emotions, and a surprising storyline. Woven carefully throughout is a message of God's faithful presence and sovereignty. If you enjoy reading novels, I recommend this one.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Book Review: Jesus Lives

Sarah Young is quickly becoming one of my favorite devotional writers. This is the second book of hers that Thomas Nelson Publishers has sent me to review, and I am not disappointed. I plan to read the third, which is actually her first, as well.

In Jesus Lives, as in Jesus Calling, Sarah Young shares writings from her personal prayer and devotion time. Her messages are unique in that she focuses on Christ’s presence, writing what she believes He is saying to her each day. As a result, the devotionals are written as if spoken by Christ which makes them especially personal and meaningful.

Young does make it clear, however, that,
“The Bible is the only infallible Word of God. My writings are based on that unchanging standard, and I try to ensure that they are consistent with biblical truth.”
Scripture is, in fact, emphasized in each devotional. Words directly from the Bible are italicized and two to four references are included for each message.

Young has made two helpful additions to this book. First, there is a Guide to Themes. If I want to read devotionals specifically about trust, for example, this guide tells me which include that theme or several other themes I might be interested in.

Second, on the page opposite each devotional, all referenced verses are printed out for me to read right there. This means, unless I’m looking for context, I don’t have to read with my Bible in hand or at the computer with on the screen.

While the devotionals in Jesus Calling focused on His Presence, the 180 devotionals in Jesus Lives focus on His love. If you are searching for a devotional that will help you to develop a deeper awareness of and relationship with Jesus, I recommend Jesus Lives.