The Quick-Start Guide to the Whole Bible by Dr. William H. Marty and Dr. Boyd Seevers

If you have ever felt intimated by the Bible for whatever reason, The Quick-Start Guide to the Whole Bible is the perfect orientation book to help you better understand the messages of the Bible. Each chapter focuses on a single book in the Bible and introduces the setting, gives a summary, and concludes a brief “Why this book is significant” section.

As a long time reader of the Bible, I was enlightened by perspectives and insights that Dr. William H. Marty and Dr. Boyd Seevers share in their book. Dr. Marty and Dr. Seevers impressed me with their ability to share so much scholarly information in such a concise, readable style that appeals to everyone, regardless of Biblical experience or knowledge. Each chapter is short, focused and accessible. While this book can be used as a reference, I learned a lot by reading it cover to cover the first time through.

Dr. Seevers is the author of the Old Testament chapters in The Quick-Start Guide to the Whole Bible. While I learned new information in each chapter, I was particularly touched by the insights Dr. Seevers shared about the first five books of the Bible, including Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers which I have found rather tedious reading in the past. I particularly loved the thought that Leviticus teaches us that “God is holy and his people are to reflect that holiness” (page 25).

Dr. Marty is the author of the New Testament chapters in The Quick-Start Guide to the Whole Bible. I was curious how the book would flow between the Old and New Testament sections with two different authors. Not a problem. Dr. Marty seamlessly carried on what Dr. Seevers did so well in the first half of the book.

Dr. Marty reintroduced me to my Biblical hero Paul and showed so well how determined Paul and the other New Testaments writers were to be disciples of Jesus despite harrowing persecution. Dr. Marty reminds us again how they consecrated all they were and had to obey the resurrected Christ’s commission to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Whether you love the Bible as I do and want to deepen your understanding of it, or if you just want to familiarize yourself better with the Bible for whatever reason, The Quick-Start Guide to the Whole Bible is a great resource. Bethany House gave me a complimentary copy of The Quick-Start Guide to the Whole Bible by Dr. William H. Marty and Dr. Boyd Seevers for my candid review.



Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas

As the debut novel that continues the story of young Perla from Appalachian Serenade, Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas shares a charming story in a simple style that draws us effortlessly into the life of Perla, niece of Delilah, as a young adult returning to Wise.

Thomas captures well the struggles of Perla and Casewell, as she share their differing perspectives throughout her story. What I really liked is how well she captured the nuances of living in a small community where everyone influences everyone.

When prolonged drought threatens the people in Wise, Perla’s special gift may sustain the town, but her past has polarized her neighbors. Casewell, the carpenter, was my favorite character. I loved to see his honest transformation as he faced his prejudices and then surmounted them.

I liked Perla, but felt that she offered a more troubled character. On the one hand, she viewed herself as unworthy of love because of her past choices, yet at the same time, her thoughts showed little regret for what she did. Her main regrets centered around how people treated her differently and harshly because of her choices. I would have liked Perla to have shown more inner reconciliation and Godly sorrow rather than self-pity. Yet, Thomas did drive home how we often judge people based on past choices rather than their present hearts.

Overall, I was touched by this debut novel and highly recommend it. I look forward to reading future books by Thomas. Bethany House sent me a complimentary book of Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas to review.

For Such a Time by Kate Breslin

Powerful Retelling of the Story of Esther

from the book’s cover . . 

In 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.

Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy.

Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp’s prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?