Monday, November 18, 2019

Bible Review: CSB Reader's Bible

CSB Reader's Bible. 2019. Holman. 1824 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

I began reading the CSB Reader's Bible in October. Despite finding a 2019 publication date for this one on GoodReads, I *know* that I bought it for myself as a birthday present in November 2018. But who am I to argue with GoodReads? Does it matter? Not really. (On a complete side note, why do they have to MERGE all editions of a Bible based on translation. It makes it super tricky to find the RIGHT one to review...if you're the kind of person who keeps up with page numbers. As a book reviewer, I'm not just "reviewing" a translation, but a specific bible with specific features and specific layout.)

The Reader's Bible does NOT feature chapters or verses--just text. The chapter numbers can be found on the bottom of each page. It's relatively easy to find out which chapter(s) you've just read.

I love the format of this bible and other reader's Bibles. I do. I like approaching the book as a whole instead of broken up into chapters and verses. When possible, I did try to read whole books within a day or two or three. (For example, books like Genesis were read over two or three days. Mark was read in one day.)

Was there bleed-through? Were the pages too thin? While I would LOVE to see an edition with even thicker pages published, I didn't have a huge issue with this one. What I did have a little issue with is the SHININESS of the paper. I would love to not have GLARE while I read the bible. A cream colored paper would be perfectly ideal and lovely. Or a white without SHINY, SHIMMERY glare. I don't want glow-in-the-dark paper. (I'm reminded of the Friends' episode where Ross whitens his teeth. There is such a thing as TOO white.)

The size of the font was solidly good. I believe if GoodReads is trustworthy that it is 10 point font. That is definitely better than average these days. (A little on the small size if you remember the GOOD OLD DAYS). Ideally, my perfect size font would be around ten to twelve.

As for the CSB translation, I like it. I definitely like it. This was my second time reading the CSB. I first read it in the CSB Spurgeon Study Bible.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Book Review: Becoming C.S. Lewis

Becoming C.S. Lewis. A Biography of Young Jack Lewis. Harry Lee Poe. Crossway. 312 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Between the death of his mother in 1908 and his war service in 1918, young Jack Lewis made the transition from childhood to adolescence to young manhood.

I have a complex relationship with the author/theologian C.S. Lewis. I do. On the one hand, we share a birthday, and I adore almost all of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series. (I LOATHE The Last Battle.) I really like Screwtape Letters. But when it comes to his theology, his theological writing, I have issues--some BIG issue, some tiny issues, but too many to ignore.

Who is the primary audience of this new biography? I would say that it would most appeal to scholars. A strong interest in history, literature, philosophy, the first world war would certainly help. A love of Lewis' writing--his literary essays, his philosophy, his nonfiction, his fiction--would be an absolute must. It isn't enough to merely love and adore the Chronicles of Narnia. One must equally love and adore his other books and articles as well.

The premise of this one is simple, "During his school days, the boy who would grow to become C. S. Lewis formed his most important tastes in music, art, literature, companionship, religion, sports, and almost every other aspect of life. While his ideas and critical thought about what he liked and disliked would change, his basic preferences came together during this period and formed the foundation out of which his later life grew." And..."The questions of C. S. Lewis that began to form in his mind during childhood and adolescence would compel him toward answers that resulted in his conversion to faith in Jesus Christ many years later."

But above all else, this one requires an enormous amount of patience--the patience of a saint, perhaps?! It is tedious, cumbersome work. Unless you are incredibly curious to know about the smallest details of his daily life, year after year after year after could probably sum up everything you really needed to know about this time period in his life in about a hundred pages--maybe 112 pages.

This one is idea-driven. What ideas did C.S. Lewis hold during his childhood and adolescence? When did those ideas form? Did those ideas change throughout these years? Did these ideas change as he became an adult? Did they ever change? To what extent did he stay the same and to what extent did he change? What books did he read? When did he read them? Did he reread them? Did he talk about them with anyone? Did his opinions on those books, on those authors change over time? Are there any parallels between his own books that he would later write and those that he read? Are there any similar themes? What relationships were significant to him when he was eight? when he was nine? when he was ten? when he was eleven? when he was twelve? when he was thirteen? ETC.

So many WORDS. It's not that I didn't care at all. It's that I didn't care all that much. For example, do we really need to know how often a young Jack Lewis thought about sex? which friends he discussed sex with? what his sexual fantasies were? who he fantasized about? how Lewis viewed women at this time in his life? where he got his views of women from? I pick on this one issue--which I consider almost non-relevant to C.S. Lewis the author and theologian revered by Christian masses. Almost. I mean, I suppose it shows his fallenness. But still. And this is just one example.

All that being said...I can't deny the book was well-researched. He obviously spent A LOT of time finding out EVERY LITTLE THING he possibly could about C.S. Lewis. And I do believe there are a handful of readers in the world who will care because they share a similar obsession with anything and everything Lewis related. The details go to the extreme. But it's a solid read.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, November 11, 2019

Week(s) in Review: October 26-November 10

Did I read Revelation? Yes. RSV. CSB.

Am I keeping up with the Daily Chronological Bible Reading Plan for the Growing 4 Life reading group? Yes.

What did I read in the Old Testament?


  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • Esther
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi

NASB 1973

  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • 1 Samuel 1-12

What did I read in the New Testament?


  • Mark
  • Luke
  • Acts
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • Jude 
  • Revelation

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Good News! God Made Me!

Good News! God Made Me! (Board Book) Glenys Nellist. 2019. Discovery House. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Who made my fingers wiggle so? Who gave me ten cute toes? Who gave me eyes to peek at you? Who made my button nose? It's God who made my fingers five and counted out each toe. The good news is that God made me--and watches as I grow!

This is a board book for Christian parents (and grandparents) to share with the little ones in their lives. What you see is what you get--a super adorable board book highlighting God's creation and their uniqueness.

It's a lovely little book. I'm happy I got the chance to review it.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Book Review: The Oregon Trail Romance Collection

The Oregon Trail Romance Collection: 9 Stories of Life on the Trail Into the Western Frontier. Featuring Stories by Amanda Cabot, Melanie Dobson, Pam Hillman, Myra Johnson, Amy Lillard, DiAnn Mills, Anna Schmidt, Ann Shorey and Jennifer Uhlarik.  2015/2019. Barbour Books.  448 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I love pioneer stories. I do. It's "my one weakness" you might say. (Of course, I have many "one" weaknesses.) I also enjoy a good romance every now and then. This collection recently republished by Barbour was just the treat I needed. So I requested to review it.

The Sagebrush Bride by Amanda Cabot. This was a GREAT choice for an opening story. I was swept up, up and away by this swoon-worthy romance.

Beckoned Hearts by Melanie Dobson. I enjoyed this one. I did. It was a good, solid read, a nice edition to the collection.

Shanghaied by the Bride by Pam Hillman. This is not your traditional romance--for better or worse. Unless by traditional you mean predictable that the hero and heroine would ultimately fall in love. I didn't care for it much. But it wasn't awful.

Settled Hearts by Myra Johnson. If I had to pick one word to describe this one it would be SILLY. Yet I can't help recalling that it was also satisfying. I found it silly because of the way the heroine/hero treat traveling east and west--the year is 1852--as if it's no big deal, not a hardship or challenge to be found!!! Her mother is DYING and so she decides to go west to try to track down her father so they can return together to be with the dying woman--wife/mother. Anyway, the focus is NEVER on the trail or the trip. Just on all the feels. Now I admit that the feels were there for this couple. I definitely liked the characters--just found the plot/story ridiculous.

As Good As Gold by Amy Lillard. Is it horrible that I can't remember one thing about this one?! Maybe this was the story that I stopped in the middle of and took a break of several weeks?! The summary provided in the book doesn't help me recall anything either!

Daughter of the Wind by Diann Mills. One word to describe this one: INTENSE. WOW. I found this story hard to put down--not because I found myself swooning at the hero or feeling like a girl again but because I had to know what happened next. This is incredible story.

His Frontier Family by Anna Schmidt. Oh this story, this one I remember too! I definitely found it charming. Not focused on the trail west--far from it--but a great romance with a good, solid hero and heroine.

State of Matrimony by Ann Shorey. Just when I think I couldn't possibly find another "favorite" in the collection...I really enjoyed this one. The heroine hires herself out as a COOK so she can go west...and there's a love triangle of sorts. This is a book I thoroughly enjoyed now, but would have LOVED, LOVED, LOVED as an eleven year old.

Sioux Summer by Jennifer Uhlarik. At first I didn't much like this one. But then I read in the author's note about the events it was based upon (...the Indian attack/hostilities). The more I thought about it, the more I liked it.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Book Review: Westering Women

Westering Women. Sandra Dallas. 2020 [January 7] 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Hidden beneath her black umbrella, Maggie stood in the shelter of the church and stared at the woman reading the broadsheet.

Premise/plot: Maggie is one of dozens of women signing up to travel west via wagon train to Goosetown, California, a mining town in 1852. The women will face challenges great and small along the way.

My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved, loved this one. I did. I requested a review copy because the title was close to one of my all-time favorite movies, Westward the Women. Those who know me well, know that I do not do westerns. I don't. I don't like them--never have, never will. But Westward the Women has long been an exception to the ALLERGIC TO WESTERNS rule. Dallas' novel imitates the movie in the best possible ways. I do not mean it in anyway as an insult to compare the two.

I loved that the focus was on FRIENDSHIP and not particularly on romance. The characterization was incredibly well done. This book is authentic in a raw, gritty way. The lives these women led--both before joining up, during the trek west, and afterwards in California--were ROUGH. Maggie, one of our main heroines, has had a rough life. She's had to make some incredibly difficult decisions. As have some of the others. This isn't a book appropriate for younger readers (tweens and younger teens.) There are a couple of #metoo instances that while completely realistic and authentic make it an intense read.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Prepare Him Room #2

While Joy to the World is not my favorite Christmas hymn, there is one line in the lyrics that resonates deeply with me. Let every heart prepare him room...What does that mean for you and me as another holiday season approaches. How can we--as individuals, as a church body--prepare our hearts to receive, to celebrate Christ's coming?

If you prepare your heartyou will stretch out your hands toward himIf iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents. (Job 11:13-14)

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. Psalm 86:11

With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:10-11)

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. (Psalm 119:15)

Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. (Psalm 119:36-37)

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Psalm 119:104

Your testimonies are my heritage foreverfor they are the joy of my heart. Psalm 119:111

What do you joy in? What do you take joy in? Do you find joy--pleasure, happiness, contentment--in sin? Or do you find joy--pleasure, happiness, contentment--in Christ? Have you turned away from sin and turned towards Christ? We are called to love the Lord our God with all our hearts. All. If we are holding onto sins--pet sins, my preciousss--then we are not loving God with all. The more we love God, the more we'll hate sin and want to "put it far away." 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible