Have you ever wondered what the Song of Solomon was really about?

Growing up, I was eager to study and learn my Bible like a lot of young Christian girls. I’m not sure if I was trying to read it in book order or if the title “Song of Solomon” intrigued me because it was suppose to be a song (or maybe perhaps it was because I didn’t remember ever hearing about this book in church, but however I came across it, I did. “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine.”- Song 1:2 (NIV). In my young, pre-pubescent mind, part of me wanted to shut my Bible right then and there, however, part of me was intrigued to read on since I had never come across this before… and it was in my Bible! But, being of the mindset if I did read it and my parents were to come in my room and catch me that it would be my utter demise, I opted to turn to a different book and never said a word about what I had read to my parents, because surely, since I had never heard of this book before, there had to be a mistake or it was something that I was not suppose to read, even though I thought I could read everything in my Bible.

Fast forward several years. Those words I read that day still clung to my mind. It wasn’t until I was quite older that I attempted to read the Song of Solomon again, still not ever hearing a sermon preached on it. That time, it was a bunch of flowery Shakespeare poetry that I had no idea what it was suppose to mean, even though I had an English teacher that encouraged us one time to find the hidden meaning in songs and poetry. Well, even though she was an ordained minister, I didn’t feel that this book would be appropriate for discussion in the classroom even though we were all in AP English and most of us were soon turning 18. Still curiosity loomed in my mind over this book in the Bible. Why would God put it in there and what exactly was it suppose to mean? Was this a mere book of mild “porn”, but if so, why was it in my Bible and why is it that preachers rarely preach on it?

I happened across He Calls You Beautiful: Hearing the Voice of Jesus in the Song of Songs by Dee Brestin when I was browsing some books to review and it immediately got my attention. Not ever fully understanding the contents of the book, a complete study of it had always intrigued me and this study guide did not let me down! Written for a group or individual study use, this study guide goes through chapter by chapter and sometimes line by line and depicts the meaning behind it and the similarities between Solomon the bridegroom and the bridegroom of the church, Jesus and between the Shulammite woman and the church as the bride of Christ, pointing out that this book is not only meant to depict the perfect marriage, but in the middle of the Bible in general, this book outlines the complete love story of the Bible and Christ’s love for his people. It even references other scripture that describes different attributes of God like a pillar of smoke and even details why the bride wants “dove’s eyes” (who knew they were very near sighted).

This study guide also features some of the most comprehensive examination questions at the end of each discussion chapter. These questions encourage whoever is studying it to delve deeper and really grasp the full meaning of the Song. The study guide is also very interactive with activities to open the group up and media usage to get in the mindframe for the questions. The study can be used without the group activities and media usage though. Through the study, it is the hope of Dee for the studier to understand just how much God loves them and sees them as a beautiful bride rather than who the Devil tells them they might be.

If you have ever desired to study the Song of Solomon in the Bible, since it’s not really talked about much at church, or even if you are at the pit of your life and think you are completely worthless to everyone, including God, I encourage you to pick up a copy of this study. You will be glad you did! This study is definitely for a more for mature readers as I feel that younger minds, even though they may benefit from understanding the Song, won’t fully grasp the meaning and will probably see this book in the Bible as nothing other than silly. A great study overall for groups or individuals!

To check out a preview of this book or order a copy, you can click here.

WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group provided this book to me for free in exchange for this honest review as part of their Blogging for Books program.


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Choosing to Love Thy Enemy

A riveting tale from the first page to the very last word of the novel, readers will be enthralled to turn each page of Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette! Based in a time before Jesus, back before “Joshua fit the battle of Jericho”, but Moses still walked on the earth, the children of Israel were condemned to wander the desert for 40 years while waiting to enter the Promised Land. This novel takes place towards the end of the 40 years right before the Israelites are about to claim the land flowing with milk and honey that God had promised the generation before them.

Loosely based on Biblical context, the reader finds themselves in the midst of a war between the Israelites and Canaanites. It is there we meet Alanah, the woman warrior that none of her fellow soldiers is aware is a woman. After the death of her family members in the war, Alanah feels obligated to fight to defend their country and so that their blood is not shed in vain. With no allegiance to any gods, or anyone except Canaan and the memories of her family, she joins the military and is not afraid to stare death in the face if it means that she will be preserving her nation. After making a random shot into an enemy soldier, Alanah finds herself shot in the shoulder and fading in and out of consciousness.

Enter Tobiah, an Israelite soldier. He finds Alanah wounded on the battlefield and has orders to finish her off. However, upon closer view in her eyes, he finds that she is a woman and is left flabbergasted on what to do next. Not wanting to kill a woman, he figures he can do nothing else but take her to a healer so that her life can be saved. Upon finding said healer, he is informed that since he rescued Alanah, even with her being a Canaanite, the Torah requires he marries her to provide her with protection and her honor. Being a man who is very devout and law abiding, he has Alanah prepared for the wedding ceremony and marries her with a 30 day betrothal period where she can decides if she wants in that time to leave him. Knowing her only other choice (and an unpalatable one at that!) would be to go back to Canaan and be a temple priestess, Alanah decides her best choice would be to marry Tobiah.

Alanah finds herself rejected by Tobiah’s sister, who is the wife of his best friend who was killed in action; however, being a lady who enjoys a challenge, she decides, at least at first, to stick it out. Tobiah’s sister tries to do everything in her power to make Alanah flee so that he can marry the girl that their family had chosen for him instead of this outsider. Alanah finds herself falling in love with Tobiah, but is not sure if he returns her feelings, and Tobiah finds himself in the same predicament.

Already on fragile ground, one day, Alanah finds Tobiah’s bag and decides to search through it to see what he might carry. What she finds she does not want to see and before she can put things back, her secret is exposed to none other than Tobiah’s spiteful sister who says that Tobiah will never forgive her. Not knowing what else to do, Alanah runs and that is when calamity ensues. The problems do bring her to a sister she didn’t realize she had (Rahab in Jericho), and she shares her faith with Rahab, which leads to the helping of the Israelite spies.

Even though this is a work of fiction, it does stay consistent with Biblical events of the end of the 40 years of wandering for the Israelites. Connilyn does a fantastic job of painting a picture of what it could have been during that time and the possibility that a family member was the one who helped bring Rahab to faith in God. If you enjoy reading fiction that expounds on some of the vague details from Scripture, then you will enjoy this book. Filled with action, adventure, love, and forgiveness, this is a book you will have a difficult time putting down. I do not recommend this book for younger readers, as while it is not horribly graphic, there are references that are not suitable for children. This novel is the last of a 3 part series, and while I am very interested in reading the other two novels, I feel you can easily pick this one up and not feel like you have missed anything. This is a book you will want to pick up from your local bookstore or library!

For a preview of the novel or to purchase, please click here.

I received this book free courtesy of Bethany House Publisher’s Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

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We Stood Upon Stars (a good book for camping)

Imagine sitting around the campfire with a good friend one evening during the summer sharing tales of trips through mountains and VW Van wagon trips ending up on the side of the road. Reading We Stood Upon Stars by Roger Thompson is like doing just that. The imagery he creates in the book/travel guide makes it so you almost feel like you were there with Roger on his travels; catching the big fish while fly fishing, sampling the coffee at all the local coffee shops, and sitting on the side of the road with him after unpacking his van while waiting for the tow truck to come along so the van can be fixed and you can get on with your travels.

While this book is very interesting in its tales of good vacations past, it also gives you a very detailed map of where he went for each chapter he writes about. The maps will provide you with road names, as well as where to stop for good food, drinks, and scenery. If you ever breakdown on a mountain road in Montana, you will find the name of a tow company he utilized a few times and really enjoyed. Going on a fly fishing trip and want a good fishing guide?; there are some names of local fishing guides that he recommends to use. This book would be a great book to use to plan a vacation out west from California to Montana.

This book is a good read, but it is written more to the men who purchase the book. He talks a lot about finding yourself as a man and some heritage and legacies men want to leave with their children. The female readers who enjoy the outdoors will enjoy the traveling and outdoorsy aspect of the book; however, it is a book that will speak very much so to a man’s heart. It is almost like men having a man to man conversation around the campfire, but one that the females in the group still enjoy listening to. This book would be okay for young readers to read, although, I don’t feel that it would hold their attention for very long. It is more for the mature readers who want a good book on traveling.

To check out a preview of this book or order a copy, you can click here.

WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group provided this book to me for free in exchange for this honest review as part of their Blogging for Books program.


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Of Wallflowers and Mysteries

What do you do when you are forced into society events in the Victorian era, but have only found yourself as a wallflower? You become a social page reporter. Having lost her mother at a young age, Permilia Griswold enjoyed traveling with her father owned mines. While Permilia enjoyed mining life and was interested in taking over the mines someday, her father wanted much more for her life; he wanted her to have a motherly influence who would encourage her to become a lady. After her father meets and marries Ida who is a society lady, Permilia finds herself forced into the life of the social elite… just one problem, she is forced into a society that doesn’t accept her for the quirky person she is and it is not long before she is deemed a wallflower.

Asher Rutherford is a self-made business man who owns his own clothing store. At his first meeting with Permilia, she is trying to haggle him down on the price of his ice skates to Central Park. When a ball brings them together again, Asher is unable to remember who this peculiar lady is, until someone sparks the memory; however, he is intrigued by her and finds himself drawn to her for a dance or two. Taken aback, Permilia reluctantly lets him sign her dance card for a dance she ends up not performing properly and writes the satire about herself in the social page for her next Miss Quill article. Even though she runs an accomplished column, nobody is aware of her pen name or that she writes the Miss Quill column because she fears it would bring disgrace to her family because the press is the enemy of the social elite.

While at the society ball, Permilia and her friend Gertrude find themselves wandering through the house and unexpectedly privy to two gentleman talking about doing away with Asher. As the ladies hear the gentlemen open the door, Permilia and Gertrude shove themselves into a dumbwaiter and maneuver into the kitchen. Permilia realizes all too late that her unique shoe is missing, but realizes she must tell Asher. Although Asher thinks that it is an exaggeration, he still can’t help but be cautious, especially since he is inexplicably drawn to this intriguing woman.

Once Permilia’s article is published about her and Asher, as well as several other articles elaborating on the amount of time Permilia and Asher spend together at the ball, her editor demands that there is more to the story and that he wants the first scoop on any engagement announcement for pair. Permilia assures her editor that they are not a couple, but desperate to get more publicity for the paper, he requests that she still make up some juicy tale. When Permilia states that she will not, she finds herself thrown out of the office without a job. She is not sure what her next move is to be, but she feels that she has a duty to watch out for Asher and investigate who is trying to murder him. On her way home, a boy comes and gives her a mysterious box which contains her missing shoe from the ball, as well as a strong admonition that if she does not leave town, her life will be in danger as well.

You will not want to miss reading Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano. Old fans, as well as new readers, to her books will enjoy her usual set of quirky characters, humor, and mystery, as well as the steady pace that comes when reading this book. I also enjoy the vocabulary that Jen uses in her novels. She is not afraid to use some of the less commonly used words, and they fit perfectly with her novels since most of them are written in the Victorian era. She does not disappoint from the first page to the very last sentence. This is a book that is suitable for any age reader, but will be more thoroughly enjoyed by the advanced reader who enjoys a comedy mystery.

For a preview of the novel or to purchase, please click here.

I received this book free courtesy of Bethany House Publisher’s Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

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Can love span the farthest shores

Being rescued from a childhood of hard knocks, Jenny Bennett had a deep-seated desired to help others; what better place for a lady with some grit, due to her past, to help others, than as an army nurse. While performing her nursing duties, she runs across a handsome sailor, Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher. For Jenny and Ryan, it is love at first site. From the get go they are inseparable and start dreaming of a future together, knowing the only thing that will separate them temporarily is the high chance that Ryan will be deployed. When the time to be deployed comes, Ryan parts promising to write Jenny frequently and giving her his deceased father’s wristwatch as a promise to come back home to her with a ring.

Jenny starts to write letters to Ryan and gets nothing in return from him. Each day, she checks the wounded or MIA soldiers lists to be sure that Ryan’s name does not appear on it and each day, she is relieved to know that he is still alive and accounted for. One day Jenny receives a note from Ryan that he cannot keep his commitment to her to marry and that she should move on with life. Devastated, Jenny puts her life into her work and caring for others that she loses her social life and does not have time to think on the feelings she felt for Ryan and the pain of the loss.

One day Jenny goes to the cafeteria and finds a little girl playing and the man that she calls “Daddy” looks like none other than Ryan, whom she has not seen in years. The gentleman seems to purposely avoid her however so she is left hurt and puzzling over what is going on. She proceeds to find Ryan’s house and confronts him about what is going on and why the little girl calls him “Daddy”. Ryan cannot seem to give Jenny a straight answer and this only frustrates Jenny even more. What Jenny does not know is that Ryan is still on a secret mission and cannot give out too much information so that way he does not give himself away, even though it risks everyone on break calling him a coward and deserter.

As Jenny is working one night, she overhears some soldiers threatening to turn him in for desserting his duties. Since Jenny still feels an allegiance and desire for Ryan, she feels the need to tell him that he is going to be turned in so that he can have a chance to defend himself. When she goes to confront him, he is sailing with a civilian in the middle of the day instead of working, which leaves her confused. What she doesn’t know is that the civilian Ryan is working with is Ryan’s chance to be relieved from his current mission and have any sort of life with Jenny. One big problem though, is that Ryan’s replacement is a drug addict and needs to be clean to be able to take Ryan’s place on the mission. Ryan believes Jenny is his best chance at helping with the issue, but can he get Jenny to agree to help him so they can live their happily ever after?

To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden is a captivating novel of love and duty that will have you turning each page. This is not a book that is suitable for younger readers. While it is a Christian based novel, it also deals with some adult topics, such as drug addiction. This is a fantastic novel and based on this book alone, I would enjoy reading more books from Elizabeth Camden.

For a preview of the novel or to purchase, please click here.

I received this book free courtesy of Bethany House Publisher’s Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

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A Cheery and Simple Coloring Devotional

Remember some of those Bible verses you learned in Sunday School as a child? How about taking some of those beloved verses and elaborating/meditating on them a little bit more, adding some joyful and cheery designs to color, and making them into a 28-day devotional? Words of Grace by Jacqui Grace and Dee Arnold does just that. This tender devotional delves into one treasured Bible verse per day and presents the reader with a fresh take on the verse and a new way to ponder over it and bask in God’s love that is shown in that verse.

Each verse and day is accompanied by a new design to color in that is related to that verse in some way. At the beginning of the devotional, they encourage you to read through the words and then take time to color in the page that goes with the daily devotional and “prayerfully consider (the verse’s) meaning in your life”. Each picture is intricate, yet simple enough that you can focus on spending time with God while you color and meditate. The pictures themselves are very springy/summery and cheery; many flowers and birds grace the pages, as well as some other aspects. Each picture is drawn around a phrase from the verse that you are able to color in as well.

If you have a small group you are looking to do a month long devotional with, this is a good book for that too. The devotions can be completed individually by members of the group and at the end of the week when everyone gets together, there are a few questions for group discussion and contemplation; which can also be used for individual reflection as well.

This is a devotional you will definitely want to pick up if you enjoy coloring and want to do devotions that cause you to slow down a bit and meditate on the verse for a little while. The coloring pages are not very difficult, but simple enough you can do whether you are a younger person, or a more experienced colorer who wants a devotional with a coloring accent. I recommend this devotional for anyone. It is like a bright spot of sunlight in the day.

For a preview of the devotional or to purchase, please click here.

I received this book free courtesy of Bethany House Publisher’s Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

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The Glory of the Messiah Coloring Book

Have you ever wanted to put the prophecies of the Old Testament on the same page as the New Testament fulfillment of those prophecies? Even better yet, how about see some of the Hebrew words of those prophecies written out on paper? Throw in some picture outlines (to color of course!) and that’s what makes “The Glory of the Messiah” adult coloring book by Susan Perlman and Shelley Skoropinski.

This coloring book is truly unique in the fact that it was written by Messianic Jewish authors. In case you haven’t heard of the Messianic Jewish movement, they are a group of people who practice a lot of the Jewish traditions, but have paired Old Testament Biblical/Torah prophecies with the New Testament Biblical fulfillment of those prophecies and have come to recognize that Jesus Christ is the long awaited Messiah that the Jews have been seeking.

Every 2 pages in this coloring book starts with a Hebrew word (written in Hebrew) at the top of the page and the English definition of the Hebrew word under that. Each of the words is linked to two verses from the Bible- one prophetic of who the Messiah would be, and one fulfillment of who Jesus Christ is. On the page opposite is a drawing to color in of something relating to the Hebrew word and Scripture that accompanies it. Each drawing is chock full of details to be colored in for those who enjoy coloring books with lots of detail.

The drawings are very detailed, but absolutely beautiful, although at times, some are a little abstract for my normal coloring preferences (I prefer a bit more cut and dried pictures). I really enjoyed the Scripture that accompanied each picture. I had not really taken the time to parallel the prophecies and fulfillment of the Messiah together, but seeing them on one page was really neat. The coloring book says it is primarily for adults in the fact that it is so detailed, but a child who enjoys coloring detail would really enjoy this coloring book as well.

For a preview of the novel or to purchase, please click here.

I received this book free courtesy of Bethany House Publisher’s Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

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