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Heavenly Whispers: 222 Day Devotional

Heavenly Whispers: 222 Day Devotional by [Benade, Dr. Ronel]

Have you been in a situation where all hope seems lost? Have you felt like God is abandoning you? Have you ever felt like you faith is wavering? Like you are losing grasp of your relationship with God?

Heavenly Whispers taps into all of these feelings and serves as a guide to devotion to help keep that bond with God. This is a guide to keeping a hold on faith and remaining strong under God despite the storm that’s raging. This book will help you devote yourself to God unencumbered by your own mind and self-imposed hurdles by providing you with a strong and insightful scripture every day for 222 days. It comes in a tiny package. You can have it in your pocket for whenever and wherever the need to commune with God arises.

There are so many great qualities here. First is the carefully picked words from the Bible. The prayer after each scripture. Then there is how the message just seems to tap into that deep yearning for God. Another great thing, it is not bogged down by stories. There are no endless paragraphs of one person telling you how they do things and how this will succeed. The author delivers the scripture and prayer and then leaves it up to you to execute. Another thing that I really liked is that the devotion sessions are short. You could have a moment with God as you wait for the train or between meetings. It really is the best travel companion.

I feel like the book could have benefited from a sort of appendix at the back. A guide on which pages to go to when faced with specific situations.

Dr. Ronel Benade has provided people with a way to gain divine knowledge in a daily piecemeal way that makes all the wisdom of God attainable.

The prayers are simple and impactful and the author urges the reader to go on and impact the world positively. I find that the mere act of sharing this book with others is impactful. There is greater joy in receiving these little bits of Heavenly whispers.

Pages: 232 | ASIN: B07KMXN44F

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Forgotten Letters

Forgotten Letters by [Raeber, Kirk, Acevedo, Mario]

Forgotten Letters is a beautifully told story of family, love, faith, and war that focuses on Robert Campbell, an American and his love interest, Makiko Asakawa, who is of Japanese descent. The two meet as children when Robert’s family stay with Makiko’s family in Yokohama during the 1920s to 1930s. It’s during this time that a relationship is formed between the two. Robert’s family eventually moves back to the United States while he is still in school, but Robert and Makiko vow to see each other again and maintain their bond by writing letters to each other. It is not until the 1940s, with the attack on Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of World War II that the two are reunited. The novel delicately pieces together the story of these two individuals living through death and devastation as they fight to get back to each other.

Kirk Raeber does an excellent job of handling the intricate details of the novel. There are a lot of historical components to this piece, and the author weaves his fictional story into American and Japanese history among other components of the novel flawlessly. Firstly, Robert’s father is a preacher; therefore, a lot of his lessons for a young Robert are based on scripture and particular Bible verses. Robert often returns to these Bible verses during trying moments in his life. It’s clear that the author had some knowledge of the Bible and took great care in picking out the right verse during difficult moments in Robert’s life. Secondly, the author seems to be aware of American and Japanese culture during the time period that the novel spans. Also, even though this is a fictional story, there are historical elements weaved into it, such as the attack on Pearl Harbor and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Raeber does not skip over these aspects of history, but rather he weaves them into Robert and Makiko’s story, illustrating not only how these unfortunate events impacted these two fictional characters, but it can also be reasoned that his telling of their story resonates the mood and despair of those that actually lived through the experience. It’s clear that Raeber took care while writing these events to make sure that he handled them with accuracy.

A small note of criticism lies within the secondary characters of the novel, Robert and Makiko’s son and daughter. The whole story begins when the adult children are going through their deceased parents’ belongings and stumble upon the letters that the two lovers exchanged long ago. This then leads into Robert and Makiko’s storyline, and the reader isn’t returned to the characters of the adult children until the end of the novel. While Robert and Makiko’s story is obviously the focus of the novel, it would have been nice to be returned to the adult children periodically throughout the novel. The placing of these two characters at the very beginning and very end of the novel creates a disconnect with them, and it leaves one questioning their purpose overall. It’s very possible that Robert and Makiko’s story can be told without the mention and inclusion of their children as characters.

Overall, Raeber’s Forgotten Letters is a beautifully told story of love’s triumph over distance, death, and war. This novel is highly recommended to those that might have an interest in World War II, 1940s Japanese culture, or anyone who just enjoys a good love story.

Pages: 406 | ASIN: B01HQFFXYY

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The Reaper

The Reaper (The Fallen Conviction)

The Reaper opens with the revelation that the King of Akala is missing, and the new Queen, Leah, is now in power. She meets with President Inaeus Janu of Shaweh to offer a peace treaty that brings their long war to an end. Janu suspects the Queen is a figurehead and focuses on the mysterious Lialthas who seems to have an undue influence over the Queen.

In the meantime, refugees from Akala reach the city-state of Shaweh seeking asylum. The group includes the missing King Darius, his half-sister Moriene with the child Hannah in tow, General Victor Ikharson, and Sefas, once called Meddiah when he was an Empty One. They are shadowed by the black-clad Zacharias who used his magic to help them escape from Lialthas. When the Akalan’s gestures of peace turn out to be empty promises, President Janu and the Akalan refugees are whisked to a secure location as war resumes.

This is the second book in the Fallen Conviction series, and it wasn’t hard to catch up when the asylum-seekers told their story to Janu. This gave me the chance to get up to speed on the plot if you haven’t read the first book.

The interplay between Darius’ group of refugees and the leadership of Shaweh are the primary drivers of the plot. Character-driven stories are a big draw for me, and the author has a knack for showing the complex, often antagonistic relationships between all of these strong-willed characters. My favorite characters in this book were Moriene and Sefas, who were once under Lialthas’ control. Both escaped his grasp and recovered from being “Empty,” yet both still seem to be fighting the battles of the past.

I also enjoyed the high-tension setting. Being locked in a bunker with people you don’t like but are forced to trust is hard enough, but if that trust is tested, things are going to get violent. The situation erodes when Zacharias reveals that there’s something even worse that Lialthas out there, and they may not be able to stop it.

The first thing that struck me about The Reaper was the unusual formatting. At first, I thought it was a typesetting error, but it became clear that the line numbering was meant to give it a scriptural feel. Some of these passages have archaic sentence structure with rhyming words at the end of sentences, but it’s not always consistent and that can be frustrating for those expecting poetic meter. However, the nod to scripture isn’t surprising because gods and religion play a major part in this story.

Don’t assume that because this is written in poetic language that it won’t be exciting. This is a place where magic and technology that we would recognize today are both present, where battles are fought with WMD strikes as well as mind-bending magical attacks. War is gruesome, and the author doesn’t pull his punches when it comes to violence and mayhem. In this world, magic is fueled by blood, fear, and suffering, so whoever wields this power must harm others in order to succeed.

If you’re looking for a novel that offers both a unique style and a reading experience that challenges and defies “the usual” in fantasy, give this book a try.

Pages: 340 | ASIN: B06XRS3SFD

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