The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
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Five Gold Stars

the-dog-who-was-thereThe Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

I’ll admit that while I have a certain fondness for animals in real life, I don’t really do animal tales. The thought of reading a novel about a horse or watching a movie about a whale just doesn’t appeal to me.

But perhaps what intrigued me about this particular novel was the idea of viewing some of “the greatest story ever told” from a new-to-me type of angle. So I did indeed pick up The Dog Who Was There by author Ron Marasco. And I wasn’t disappointed.

No, this isn’t a story about a dog who follows Jesus around everywhere. In fact, for a while, I found the parts where Jesus showed up to be the least compelling of the novel. Much like an extra guy who didn’t quite fit in the story, in person. And I thought that perhaps His presentation here leaned too much toward the kind of soft and radiant Christ Who appears in Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur, not enough like a man Who used to work with His hands and would’ve spent a lot of His time in the sun and dirt.

But, once it’s all weaved together, He ultimately does fit in this account that centers on a lovable and courageous dog, Barley. Seriously, Barley’s engaging and poignant story put tears in my eyes at least three different times. And while there’s a simple, storybook feel to the characters and maybe some head-hopping (like hops from Barley’s head into human ones), there’s genius in the novel’s layering and delivery.

It’s the kind of book that makes you want to be a better person, and that says a lot. I’d recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys Christian and Biblical Fiction or inspirational stories, whether you’re usually a fan of animal tales or not.

Priscilla and Aquila by Lois T. Henderson and Harold Ivan Smith

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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7632846Priscilla and Aquila by Lois T. Henderson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Priscilla and Aquila will experience love and untold challenges in marriage, and not only for matrimonial reasons. They’ll join others in the forging of a new way of faith in a Roman world in Priscilla and Aquila, a novel by Lois T. Henderson and Harold Ivan Smith.

I’ve enjoyed other novels by the late Henderson about biblical figures, namely, Miriam, Ruth, and Abigail–whose stories are rather popular material for fictional retellings. I think it’s safe to say that novels about Priscilla and Aquila are on the much rarer side, which may be what I appreciate most about this novel.

I also like how the man/woman and husband/wife relationships are not “copy and pasted” here: copied from the twentieth century the book was written in and pasted into 48-54 A.D. The characters don’t just automatically “get” how to handle the gradual shifts in gender roles in the early Church, but both the men and the women have to grapple with new ideas.

The book became a bit dull to me at some points after Priscilla and Aquila’s exit from Rome. It’s as if the plot isn’t quite sure what to do with itself at times. Upon the arrival of the apostle Paul and the telling of his story, Priscilla and Aquila (especially Aquila) seem to fade somewhat into the background. Aquila becomes a more minor figure toward the end, cutting his character development short. Paul essentially takes over the story’s leading role opposite Priscilla.

This was Henderson’s final novel. It’s apparent that she passed before it was published, and maybe before she’d finished writing it, since this particular novel of hers has a co-author. This could be one explanation for the disjointed feel of the plot toward the end. The rather last-minute characters like Faltius and Demetrius didn’t interest or evoke much feeling in me, as they show up when the novel is ready to wrap up.

Yet, all in all, it was an enjoyable read for me, one that other Biblical Fiction readers may think worthy of seeking out.

Winners: Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers 2016 Giveaways

Giveaway Winners

Annual Book Awards

I’d like to thank everyone who entered 2016’s Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers giveaways!

I’m happy to announce that sh2rose won a copy of The Confessions of X by Suzanne M. Wolfe, Lynden won a copy of Long Way Gone by Charles Martin, Janice won a copy of The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart, lindamoffitt02 won a copy of In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar, and Stacy won a copy of Rise and Shine by Sandra D. Bricker. Congratulations!

The Confessions of X long-way-gone

The Five Times I Met Myself In the Field of Grace Rise and Shine

Be sure to check out all of this year’s Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers, and start the Home to Milford College, Fallout, and Movement of Crowns series with some free reads from Amazon.

The Lawyer’s Luck    |    All the Way to Heaven

 The Lawyer's Luck      All the Way to Heaven

The Movement of Crowns

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Esther: The Star and the Sceptre by Gini Andrews

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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esther-the-star-and-the-sceptreEsther: The Star and the Sceptre by Gini Andrews

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

A young woman, Hadassah, is taken from her home like so many other women, by order of the king of Persia. Though Hadassah could become queen, she holds a secret that could mean her death in Esther: The Star and the Sceptre by author Gini Andrews.

It intrigues me to see how different writers adapt the biblical story of Esther. I’ve seen at least four different film versions, have read at least three, and one I enjoyed a few years ago is this novel from the 80s. I appreciated a number of the author’s descriptions throughout the story, like when Esther dances and becomes “poetry and fire.”

At times, the plot and character development seems disjointed. I would’ve liked some thoughts to be unwrapped more, to bring cohesiveness between one idea and another and to make more sense of the characters’ experiences.

It also appears that the overall story, along with Esther herself, doesn’t have much to do after Haman’s storyline ends. I didn’t find a reason to care much about the minor characters David and Ruth from the beginning, so their subplot wasn’t all that interesting or necessary to me.

However, the novel redeems itself, as it heads toward its poignant end, by refusing to tie everything together in a neat little bow. The sense of triumph doesn’t neglect the sense of loss, and Persia doesn’t become a utopia, but Mordecai gives Esther an important reminder about their people and the Messiah.