Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Book Review :: InScribed Collection - Inseparable by Ashley Linne, Barren Among the Fruitful by Amanda Hope Haley, and Just RISE UP! by Sarah Francis Martin

The InScribed Collection is currently a collection of 7 studies (by women and for women). The 3 newest books in the collection are: Inseparable by Ashley Linne, Barren Among the Fruitful by Amanda Hope Haley, and Just RISE UP! by Sarah Francis Martin. The 4 previously released books in the collection are: Leaving Ordinary by Donna GainesLiving "So That" by Wendy BlightAmazed and Confused by Heather Zempel, and Dive Deeper by Jenifer Jernigan.

Each of the books in this collection are just beautiful books (judging by the cover, here) - they each have a textured textured cover (almost like watercolor paper) and the pages have deckle edges (aka - uncut or featheredged). Both the front and back covers have attached flaps (not a book jacket or dust cover) - the front flaps have Proverbs 3:3 and a note from the author (in their handwriting) and the back flaps have information about the author (including a picture). This collection uses The Voice as the primary source for Scripture quotations. (This may be why there are unexplained italicized words in some of the quotations - I do not have The Voice so I do not know for sure.)

Inseparable by Ashley Linne is a book comprised of 3 parts (a total of 11 chapters) based on a study of the book of Romans. This is not a verse-by-verse or chapter-by-chapter study. Romans chapters 8, 3, 5, 10, 7, 13, 15, 11 (portions), 12, and 4 are covered - in that order.

Each chapter is approximately 15-20 pages long (including the printed entirety of the chapter of Romans from The Voice that is being covered). Each chapter of Inseparable focuses on one "In Christ, I am... ___") statement. At the end of each chapter, you will find "Step into the Story" where a chapter (or portions of a chapter) from Romans are printed (from The Voice). There are study hints/things to notice pointed out along-side the selection from Romans, with an unlined prompt page after for notes/findings/prayers/reflections. (The prompts for each chapter are: "Prayer", "Big Picture", "Context", "Original Audience", and "Stand Out Moments".) Following this is "Come Together", that offers questions to think about/discuss. (These could be used for personal reflection or even group discussion.) Then, at the very end of each chapter is a lined "Notes" page. Inseparable is obviously formatted to be written in. (Not every book in the InScribed Collection is this way.)

Barren Among the Fruitful by Amanda Hope Haley is a book comprised of 10 chapters based on comments that may be heard by those who are dealing with infertility. (The author is still dealing with issues of infertility, and she was also conceived with the help of a fertility drug.) Each chapter features a portion of the author's personal story along with stories from other people (including the author's husband) who have dealt with/are dealing with infertility. There are Bible stories and Bible references throughout Barren Among the Fruitful. There are questions to think about at the end of each chapter. (These could be used for personal reflection or even group discussion.)

Barren Among the Fruitful is not just a book of personal experience, though. Along with the stories are facts and statistics about various aspects of infertility. It even includes information regarding infertility and ObamaCare (ACA - Affordable Care Act). There is a chapter dealing specifically with adoption, as well. 

What I particularly appreciated about Barren Among the Fruitful is that this is not a book that is offering a "cure" for infertitlity (although it does offer a lot of help and support), but the author offers reminders throughout that our focus should be on drawing closer to God - not just the end result of having a baby. I enjoyed this quote (from page 130):

"Having a baby isn't a happy ending; at most it's a stop along the path. Finding wholeness by accepting God's plan is a happy ending."

Just RISE UP! by Sarah Francis Martin is a book based on Psalm 145 that is comprised of 5 chapters (approximately 30-40 pages each) and one "Conversation Starter" (small group guide). Each chapter is divided into 5 sections, each section offering journaling prompts and prayer prompts. Each of the chapter sections are only a few pages long. This format would lend itself easily for use as a devotional - reading one section per weekday over a period of 5 weeks, which would take just around a month to complete the book. The 5th section in each chapter is titled "Do Life Differently", which will focus more on the practical aspects of how to apply the discussion from the rest of the chapter. At the end of each section, there are journaling prompts (and not a lot of space to write in the book), so you will most likely want to sit down with a separate journal/paper when you sit down with his book. At the very end of each chapter (not section) is a lined "Notes" page.

Although Just RISE UP! is based on Psalm 145 and does reference portions from it (eventually in it's entirety), I would not call this a verse-by-verse study as is claimed on the back cover of the book. Also, the Psalm is not printed in it's entirety anywhere in the book, so I would suggest using one of the blank pages at the back of the book to write it out for easy reference. (It is only 21 verses long.)

The "Conversation Starter" chapter at the end of Just RISE UP! is a small group guide offering general hints for leading a small group study and a few specific prompts/questions for each of the 5 chapters to help you in leading a study of Just RISE UP!.

In my opinion, the RISE UP! references throughout the book seemed overdone, but the content overall was good.

FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

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