The Sound of Distant Thunder By Jan Drexler

This book is a very unusual historical fiction. Many of the Amish steadfast beliefs are well known and one of those is non-resistance concerning military service. Any form of violence even self-defense is avoided. The story is centered around the time of the Civil War. When men in Jonas’s community were drafted the elders received permission to pay $200 per man to excuse them from fighting. Twenty year old Jonas has been hearing a lot about the war on slavery, even sneaking newspapers to learn more. His heart becomes conflicted between the principles his faith holds dear and what he believes God would have him do. His brother, Samuel, boasts that if he were drafted he would not pay the fine because it would be contributing to the war. You guessed it, his name is drawn. His bravado turns to fear. Not only would he have to leave his wife and children, but if he went to fight he would be shunned. Jonas having settled what he should do tells his brother he will take his place.
Jonas has no doubt he is doing the right thing, but his sweetheart Katie is heartbroken. All that stood between them being married is her 18th birthday and him finishing their home he is building. As with any man going to war it is horrific for his family, but in this case the family is even more distraught because they believe the young soldier is sinning against God.
I admired Jonas’s courage not only to go battle but also facing his family’s disapproval to do as he felt God led him. The historical detail was incredible. What had a great impact on me was seeing the eyes of not only the world but war’s horrific experiences through the eyes of an innocent, sheltered young man. My heart ached for Katie, waiting at home, fearing the worst and facing some battles of her own without her beloved Jonas. I saw both of them grow up quickly in many ways. There are also unexpected twists and turns you won’t want to miss. A wonderful heartfelt read.

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Sacred Holidays By Becky Kiser

I don’t know even where to begin to review this book! It is so much and more! I wish I had it when my children were younger. I always tried to center our holidays on Christ and make them special. This book would have been a goldmine for me.
I liked the unique approaches she used; not only in planning but also in how we view the celebrations. Everything we do and every day should be focused on the Lord. He is to be our number one priority. This book will help you do exactly that. I saw it as a spring board to specific ideas tailor made for a family. Ms. Kiser’s suggestions are wonderful and easy to implement, but you can also add your own personal touch.
I was impressed that she covered not only what we consider religious holidays but other memorable times you share as a family you might not have thought of such as birthdays and summer. Why not develop your own for fall, spring and winter! This isn’t just a book to read but one to keep and use over and over for reference and a workbook too! Each holiday section has pages to write down ideas, what worked and what didn’t; future plans, and struggles you faced. Alongside each struggle listed, there is a reference to the chapter in part 2 of the book that covered it. Very helpful!
She does briefly touch on Santa, the Easter bunny, and Halloween that are debated among Christians, very graciously. She gives ideas on how to be a part, but not be a part. Personally I choose not to participate in any of them. The author includes prayers and L0TS of scripture which one definitely needs if God is to be the center of our plans! I found her emphasis on not getting carried away very helpful for us OCD types. This book is not a quick fix, do it right away thing. The author is clear that you are to take “baby steps’, doing it prayerfully and slowly. I agree because it is a making traditions and important quality time with your family. Yes “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”, not just Christmas but every season! This book would get way more than 5 stars if I could give them!
I received this book from the B&H Bloggers/Lifeway Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, Wife of Charles H. Spurgeon Ray Rhodes Jr.

Biographies have long been a favorite genre of mine. They permit me to step inside the lives of famous people and get to know them better. It also allows me to learn about their strengths and things I might apply to my life.
I have to say this is an excellent biography, probably the best I have ever read. It isn’t just a big over view of Ms. Spurgeons’ life with her famous husband, but it has real meat to it. Not only did I learn so many wonderful details about her but also her personal challenges, emotions, thoughts and her relationship with Mr. Spurgeon. The book is packed with not only facts but a treasure of correspondences they exchanged which was immense.
I was in awe at all the physical ailments they suffered due to very poor heath, yet they continued to serve God and rely on their great faith. I found that to be such a testimony to me of persevering with a good attitude and not losing sight of your purpose.
I applaud the author all the painstaking research he did to bring this wonderful book to fruition. A beautiful tribute to an amazing woman!
I received this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Big Story Seek-and-Circle Bible Battles By Alyssa Jones

What a wonderful surprise this book was to receive! Not only is it a super sturdy board book but it is also BIG. I liked the fact that the bright colorful illustrations were not cartoonish but realistic yet still attractive. The large size is a plus since this is an activity book. A child can lay it on the floor having room to lean on it and work. The use of dry erase markers makes this an entertaining book to be used again and again.
While I love Christian board books to teach little ones more about God and His Word, I was particularly impressed with the unique subject of this one: battles of the Bible. Not an easy thing to teach small children, but with the help of this fantastic book they can have fun and learn the basic facts. The first two pages are for parents: scriptures to read, truths to remember and questions to ask. The next page explains the Armor of God. How perfect because that is what we need in any battle!
There are 5 battles depicted. Each one is a 2 page spread (I liked this!). At the top is the scripture reference where the battle is found. To the side is a key with 20 things to find in the picture. There may be anywhere from 1 – 18 pictures of a single item to discover. The pictures are not super tiny in a lot of seek and find books but they will still be a challenge. In addition, there is a large circle with a picture of with a part of the armor of God to find. Another teaching plus giving the children a visual children representation. At the very end of the key is a “Christ Connection” showing how Jesus is a part of everything in God’s plan. An outstanding book!
I received this book from Lifeway Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

A Seat by the Hearth By Amy Clipston

Priscilla had fled her Amish home 8 years ago to escape her emotionally and verbally abusive father. She had not fared very well in the world. You might say she had jumped from the frying pan into the fire. She became involved with a physically abusive alcoholic. After having a son with him and finding she could endure no more, she escaped. The only place she had to go was back home. Showing up on her parents doorstep after such a long absence and with a six year old illegitimate son, took a lot of courage, but she had no other alternative.
While her mother was thrilled to see her, her father had not changed a bit. He was still stony and gruff. She accepted her lot and all of his ultimatums. She had to dress and be Amish again in every aspect. As with Amish custom she also must confess her sin before the church and ask forgiveness, hoping to be brought back into the fold. Harder yet he demands she will marry an Amish man ASAP! Another man is NOT what she wants in her life.
Mark Riehl, the most sought after bachelor in the community finds himself drawn to her. Not only is she distrustful of him being sincere, but becomes angered at his attempts at friendship. She sees him as nothing but a vain flirt. He hurts for her and truly wants to be a friend. He doesn’t give up! After the two are caught by her father and the Bishop in an innocent but incriminating situation they are forced to marry or both be shunned. Does she flee again or enter a marriage with no love?
This book was definitely emotionally charged! I couldn’t put it down! When someone is abused, the pain spreads like a ripple to those who love and care about them. Her mother grieved over her husband’s treatment of their daughter and wanted to bring comfort. Mark wanted to protect Priscilla and take care of her, but she was not open. As a loving mother she ached to do what was best for her son. There were times my chest actually tightened feeling Priscilla’s, frustration, pain and hopelessness. The book is also filled with surprises that catch you off guard. This is my first book to read of Amy Clipston’s and I for sure want to read more. A very satisfying read! Hoping there is a sequel!!!
I received this book free from http://www.Booklookbloggers.com in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.