Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: "Prayers for New Brides" by Jennifer O. White

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
Prayers for New Brides: Putting on God's Armor After the Wedding Dress is a 40 chapter devotional for newly married, soon to be married, or even long-time married brides. It focuses on praying for your husband and God's will for your marriage. It also spends quite a bit of time talking about spiritual battle and truths about marriage.

Each chapter has a discussion, prayer, and "call to action"/journal suggestion. Example chapters include "God Is Fighting for You," "See Your Spouse through God's Eyes," "Praise: Your Love Song to God and First Line of Defense," "Cement the Experience of Unity," and "Communicate as a Team." The prayers are personalizable, frequently using blanks for you to fill in your husband's name and sometimes require more in depth thought to fill in the blanks with personal examples and experiences. At the end of each small paragraph of prayer, the Bible verses that inspired it are cited so that you can look at them further.

Overall, I thought it was a well-compiled discussion of God's role in marriage and how to go into marriage sure-footed. I would recommend doing no more than one chapter a day to get the most out of it -- the book even suggests if doing it as a devotional with a group that five chapters a week for eight weeks is a good way to tackle it. There's not many personal examples in the book, so it can be hard to take in a bunch of chapters all at once and still take something away from them.

Though I'm sure every woman would take something different away from this book, I'll share a few points that stood out to me. In the "Sacrifice Your Expectations" chapters  the prayer invites you to bring your expectations of marriage before God including all the outside influences from media and couples in your life. The prayer describes these expectations as "limiting," which was a refreshing way to look it. In the "Covering His Priorities, Time, and Energy" chapter, the prayer included thanking God for creating your husband with his specific passions, personality, and talents as well as talking about how God knows the rhythm of time your husband needs to divide his time between work, marriage, serving God, and rest. As a last note, the chapter on "Fear Less: Your Privilege as a Wife" quotes 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control," where the whole chapter focuses on surrendering your fears to God.

While I thought most of this book was well done, there were some parts that I didn't agree 100% with the author, her discussion, or the Bible verses she used to support her ideas, but some disagreement is to be expected and it didn't interfere with the parts I did find helpful.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Cross Focused Reviews for this review.  The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Review: "The Curse of Crow Hollow" by Bill Coffey

Small town friends Scarlett, Cordelia, Hays, and Naomi ditch their own party to have a private camping trip up by the town's old mines -- an area that has been fenced off mad locked up since before they were born. Superstition, rumor, and small town gossip were enough to keep most people away from the mines and from Alvaretta, whom most in the town called a witch and swore there were demons up in the mines to boot.
The narrator is a friendly southern voice, a resident of Crow Hollow, detailing the madness that took over the town to an out-of-towner. The tale begins with this teenage camping trip that ends up leading the friends to the witch's house where she promptly curses them and they barely escape alive after glimpsing some living thing that Alvaretta is desperately trying to keep hidden. 

The friends return to town, hurry to church, and desperately try to act as though nothing has happened.  Part way through the service though, the three girls are seized by fits and each develop alarming symptoms. Scarlett loses her ability to speak, Naomi has constant uncontrollable spasms, and Cordelia's face droops and is unresponsive to any muscle movement. 

With doctors stumped, the friends have no choice but to come clean about the witch's curse. Soon after, all of the other young girls in the town develop symptoms mimicking those of the original three. The town begins to fall apart as blame, rumor, and suspicion threaten to destroy the small town community. Long-held secrets come to light and questions of faith and demons, innocence and guilt, ravage the town. 

It is a dark and gripping tale that starts off at full rush with the friends getting cursed, but then slows down a lot as reader is introduced to the members of the town, setting up for the interconnected role they all play in the town's impending downfall. The final chapters speed back up to breakneck pace, packed with action and answers to the many puzzles introduced.

There's a lot of characters to keep straight and I had a little trouble remembering which kid went with which parents at first. All in all it was definitely worth reading if you're looking for something scary and mysterious, but at over 400 pages with so much build up in the middle, it could've been a little shorter. The book also includes discussion questions at the end, which would be fitting for a YA book club.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Book Look for this review.  The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.