Review of My Name is Mahtob by Mahtob Mahmoody


Genre: Autobiography/Memoir


my-name-is-mahtobMahtob had a normal life in Michigan until her Iranian father suddenly transformed into an intolerable and abusive husband, kidnapping five-year old Mahtob and her mother into Iran, where they were mistreated in the midst of an already difficult time of war. Upon their escape, Mahtob’s mother wrote Not Without My Daughter, which was also made into a movie. Now Mahtob shares her memories of that part of her life, as well as her aftermath in living with the active threat of her father, struggling through Lupus, and learning to forgive.

Framed within the motif of No-ruz (the Persian New Year), Mahtob’s writing is elegant, honest, bold, and vulnerable. The details Mahtob shares from her childhood kidnapping are vibrant and touching. The emotional pain and fear she dealt with after those events in trying to make a normal life for herself are equally captivating, and written with the suspense of the moment.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mahtob’s memoir. It is an inspirational story that could help others overcome the traumas and unforgiveness in their own lives.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson.


Review of A Thousand Shall Fall: A Civil War Novel by Andrea Boeshaar


Genre: Historical Romance

Series: Shenandoah Valley Saga


unnamed(3) Set in 1864, a few years into the Civil War, the quick-witted and day-dreamy, Carrie Ann Bell, feels responsible for her family as she carries forth her missing father’s newspaper, and labors at the Wayfarer’s Inn to care for her ill mother and sisters after a fire destroyed their home. So when her younger sister runs away with a peddler, she protectively runs out to find her, disguising herself as a Yankee soldier to look for her in the northern Yankee territory. Unfortunately, she is caught before completing her mission, but sparks fly between her and the Yankee Colonel.

I enjoyed this story, especially for the historical element. I have read very little of the Civil War era, and was able to get a better grasp of who the major militarily and political leaders were on both sides of the war. I also appreciated Boeshaar’s use of authentic historical clippings interspersed throughout the narrative.

The romance was light, fun, and predictable, which is what I expected from this genre. The war aspect (violence, brutality) was also very light and easy to read, despite the many references to horrific events. I am generally drawn toward darker war history, as it seems more authentic in that style. But the historical descriptions, people, and locations, are strong and well researched.

The tone and “appropriateness” of the story make it ideal for teen readers, who would enjoy the story while also learning a bit of relevant history.

Carrie Ann is a charming character, especially for her open-minded intellectual approach to the war, and willingness to consider both sides of the conflict, including the questions of faith and humanity.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel Publications.


Word of the Year 2016: Holiness


Each New Year I prayerfully consider a word to reflect on throughout the next year, and often it becomes a prophetic fore-telling of the theme of my next season, so I try to pick something positive and dynamic.

In 2015, my word was “release,” and the Lord led and guided me in releasing my expectations for how I should be experiencing life, as well as taking me through some of the hidden hurts of my past and allowing me to receive His grace and healing insight within those memories. Transition is not always comfortable; and I definitely experienced a “shaking” of some areas of my life as I released old things and stepped into the new both emotionally and physically.

As I was praying about a word for the 2016, it was my natural desire to want a word along the lines of “abundance.” It is the year of Jubilee (having started last September), so I think we can expect good things; and of course I want this to be a year of excellence in my own life.

What I perceived the Lord saying was that this is a year of holiness.

Holiness has so many connotations: being dedicated and consecrated for a divine purpose, being set apart, separate, sacred, and hallowed. But I was also remembering something I read some time ago from Jack Hayford (Rebuilding the New You–a great book by the way!) about holiness being connected to wholeness since the Spirit desires to perfect us in His holiness by bringing us into the wholeness of Jesus.

In other words, in Jesus we are not just set apart unto ourselves, but set apart from the kingdom of the world and into the Kingdom of God. Heaven is at hand for those who believe, and in heaven–in Jesus–there is wholeness, including of our bodies, souls, and spirits (1 Thess. 5:23, Heb. 4:12). God’s people are also to be consecrated together into a community and holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:4-5).

The Lord wants us to be holy as He is holy (Lev. 11:4-35, 1 Peter 1:14-16, Mat. 5:44-48). This is part command, but also a prophetic desire from God for His people to choose Him. On our own we cannot make ourselves holy–and good luck for those taking a manpower approach to New Year’s resolutions! ;-). Is there any better gift than being so connected with God that His thoughts become our thoughts, and His desires our desires?! Thank God, He wants to help us to connect to Him thoroughly!!

I am praying this year for:

  • deeper intimacy with God
  • increased passion in worship and intercession
  • unexpected new friends
  • abundant life for my communities (church, family, friends, school, work, etc.)
  • wholeness in my entire being, and
  • an overflowing presence of His Spirit.

Happy 2016!