Saturday, February 20, 2016

Risen by Angela Hunt

I have just finished reading this novel, but have not seen the recently released movie.  The story revolves around the death and resurrection of Jesus, as seen through the eyes of a Roman Tribune.  For those familiar with the Bible, the events in this story will be predictable.  It's for this reason that I say the book is just "ok".  I would have liked more character development.

The book introduces two main fictional characters into the familiar story of the resurrection; Clavius (a Roman Tribune) and Rachel (a Jewish widow).  The story-telling switches frequently between these two characters.  Since I consider their interaction and differing perspectives to be one of the highlights of the story, I was very surprised to read in the Author's Note that the character of Rachel was completely cut from the movie!  The bulk of the story centers around Clavius searching for the body of Jesus and interviewing his followers for information.  The author did a fairly good job of representing the Biblical characters in a matter consistent with the Scriptures.

Some of the vocabulary used in this book is specific to that time period in Roman history, and can be a bit difficult to decipher.  I would have liked to see more explanation given in the text, or a glossary of terms in the back of the book.

In summary, if you already know the details of the resurrection, this story won't be new, but it will be told in a different way.  If reading the book or seeing the movie gets people thinking about and investigating the truth of this claim - I say that's a good thing :)

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Here is a trailer for the movie...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Walk to Beautiful by Jimmy Wayne

I had never heard of Jimmy Wayne before picking up this book, but now that I know his story, I doubt I will ever forget.  This is an auto-biography of a boy who went through unbelievable hardship as a child, was transformed by the love of an elderly couple, ascended to country music stardom, and then risked it all to help raise awareness for foster kids.  Most people blame their past for making them bitter.  Jimmy chose a better path and allowed his experiences to make him better.  It is a beautiful story.

Warning: you may want to keep a box of tissues nearby!  It really was heartbreaking to hear the details of Jimmy's childhood.  I can't even fathom a child having to go through even a few of the events Jimmy had to endure, much less all of them.  As a substitute teacher, I think his story has increased my compassion for students.  I may wonder now about that student who has bad hygiene and comes in with dirty clothes.  What time of home life does he have?  How can I be an instrument of kindness?  I desire for God to use me in some way to help change someones life like the couple changed Jimmy's life.  Maybe some day He will.

The section of the book concerning Jimmy's music career was interesting, but sometimes too detailed for my interests.  I'm sure people in the music industry will get more out of it.  The thing I loved is that he rose from poverty and was living his dream, but his music career was not the most important thing - he remembered where he came from and dedicated himself to making a difference.  This is a lesson we could all learn from.

The photos in the middle of the book add a nice touch, allowing us to share in some of Jimmy's treasured memories.  This book will touch your heart and inspire you.  As Jimmy wrote "it's not where you've been, but it's where you're goin'; it's not who you were in the past, but it's who you are today - that's what really matters."

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

I've included a video for those of you not familiar with his music: