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The Beauty of His Presence

The Beauty of His Presence by [Evans, J. Shannell]

The Beauty of His Presence by J. Shannell Evans is a forty day-daily devotional for Christians. Each passage includes Bible verses mixed with everyday scenarios to which the reader can relate more closely. After each passage is an open ended set of questions with a writing area that lends itself to daily interpretation and reflection. The book begins with verses and passages about Thanksgiving and Christmas. It delves into Jesus’s birth and death from the start then incorporates the roles of faith, prayer, fellowship, and more within its pages. The author incorporates her personal opinion and experience into the work making it feel more personal and real to the reader.

Evans has curated a nice flow of devotionals. One flows nicely into the next, while at the same time standing alone should someone get off track or skip around. The passages are concise enough that reading one a day would not be a daunting task at all, and many would likely be able to easily read several. They are simply written while still being engaging. The book could easily be used in a group Bible study or Sunday school group. The questions after each section would be good for facilitating group discussion. The daily “Create your own ‘Thought for the Day’” prompt will leave readers with personal food for thought that they can ponder on throughout each day.

I like that the voice of the writer is incorporated. Evans gives accounts of her personal experiences and struggles. This makes the book feel less stuffy and rigid. It makes lofty goals of being a so-called “good Christian” feel attainable. Her personal voice keeps the book light and friendly. It feels more like a conversation than a sermon, and that is comforting. The book keeps a positive, uplifting vibe throughout. The content is heavy at times, but manages to give a hopeful air encouraging a closer walk with God.

I think the substance of the book is on target for its intended audience. Readers will enjoy the relatable stories paired with the daily verses. Evans has put together a great body of work with this book. I feel that it will be a book that will strengthen Christian’s relationships with Christ. It will give hope and positivity to the most downtrodden of readers.

Pages: 206 | ASIN: B079K5BJQY

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A Pardon For Tommy

A Pardon For Tommy

Who would have thought that a story about a turkey would bring a reader to tears? Within the pages of A Pardon for Tommy by Patricia Nmukoso Enyi readers will find just that. Chelsea Malibu is the protagonist of our story. We begin with her waking from a nightmare in her college dormitory. Chelsea is a survivor of Hurricane Katrina and still suffers from its aftermath. She is a young woman now, but she cannot let go of the horror she faced at the tender age of twelve. The story walks us through what Chelsea experienced during the hurricane, how it affected her and what happened to her family. Throughout her ordeal Chelsea had one pillar of support: the never questioning Tommy the turkey. Tommy was a prize her father had won and expected to eat on Thanksgiving with his family. However, life has a funny way of throwing you off track.

The pain that Chelsea experiences in this story is raw and real. Tommy isn’t just a pet turkey: he symbolizes her family. The family that was ripped apart by the hurricane during which her father went missing after trying to save her life. Chelsea is clearly traumatized by the events and the life she lives after relocating to live with her mother, brother and maternal grandmother isn’t as easy as it should have been. Aside from the emotional trauma, Chelsea is faced with discrimination and bullying. Her family is fractured, and no matter how much she prays it won’t become whole again.

While there are some mistakes in the grammar and the styling of the novel leaves a lot to be desired, the content of the tale more than makes up for it. Readers can feel the agony that Chelsea experiences in these pages. She is young and there is so much she doesn’t understand about what is happening to her. There are so many changes in short succession that it would make even an adult’s head spin. There is so much uncertainty in her life that it’s as if time stops for her. Because of this, Chelsea clings to Tommy, the turkey, for comfort. This turkey is the only thing that connects her to her missing father. The physical existence of the turkey allows her to have something she can touch to remember her father.

In the novel, it has been six years since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Our protagonist has avoided returning to the city where her life was so gravely changed. With the impending death of her beloved turkey Chelsea boards a bus to return. It is here that we are privy to the events that took place in that city. A Pardon for Tommy by Patricia Nmukoso Enyi is a beautiful, sad, and harrowing tale of a survivors experience with one of the deadliest events in modern history. This is a perfect book for young adults or those who enjoy more realistic fiction tales. Will Chelsea’s family ever become whole again? Will she ever find out what happened to her father? And most importantly, will Chelsea’s nightmares ever disappear? Read for yourself to find out.

Pages: 150 | ASIN: B0725M51SV

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My Father’s Kingdom

My Father's Kingdom: A Novel of Puritan New England by [George, James W.]5 Stars

A historical fiction novel by James George, My Father’s Kingdom is centered heavily around the religious strife during the American settlement at Plymoth in the late 1600s. The story is told through the narrative of both native Indian tribes and from English settlers, 50 years after our beloved Thanksgiving holiday occurred. The differences between the two people, especially in religious decisions, is what drives the stress between the alliance. The wordsmanship by George is a beautiful combination of elements and themes, pulling together from the hardships our ancestors faced and the fear that comes with abnormalities and change.

The narrative of this story is told mostly by Linto, Metacomet, and Israel Brewster. Each offers a different opinion and set of beliefs on the alliance between the people, and on their personal religious journeys. This plot of the story is comprised of a brewing rebellion after an untimely death nine years prior. Tension is strong between the two people, and fear and talk of war is present early on.

Meanwhile, the characters are on journeys of their own, to find a connection with God. Linto is hungrily trying to understand the Englishmen’s God, and is plagued by the stress. He seeks comfort in his own communion with nature with The Great Spirit. Metacomet is overcome with grief for the loss of his brother, and struggling with the responsibility of leading his tribe down the correct path. His distrust for the Englishmen and the revenge he seeks plays an important role in the evolution of the story, and it feels like you grow right along with the young leader as the tale unfolds.

On the other side of the coin, the English settlement faces troubles of its own, told mostly from the Reverend’s point of view. Israel is also a character who is suffering internally, battling the repercussions to his faith with the loss of his wife. While he does his best to keep his community pure by offering extensive counseling, he also battles with the shaky relationship with the local native tribes.

The consistent theme to the story is that which exploits the importance of peace. Often we forget what truly happened in the history of America, and instead focus on the gracious holiday that was born from the struggles of the first settlers. This story helps serve as a humble reminder of the bloodshed and the turmoil that really occurred.

Everything meshed together beautifully, staying accurate enough to the history of the war that happened while giving a unique and fresh tale to follow. It breathes life into the history we read so blandly, and George does an excellent way of making the scenario relatable and understandable to modern time. The characters are beautifully flawed, and all so different from one another. You feel the pain they feel in their journey, and I was eager to discover the endings that they would come to face. It’s a beautiful picture of American History and the fragile nature of peace and friendship.

Pages: 169 | ASIN: B01MS5OQP8

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