Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Skydive - A Review




Skydive

Skydive.jpg

by
Susan O’Brien

A Review

Not quite your normal cozy mystery.  Not even your normal murder mystery. Yet a book worth reading.

Kat (aka Katherine) has disappeared - almost as soon as she grew out of the foster care system, she was lost. Lost to everyone - her jailed mother, her foster parents, her friends, and to the PI “hired” to make she was okay. And, why was she lost, because she was not okay. Caught in the hands of human traffickers and nearly missing the deadline to avail herself of the help available to those leaving foster care, Kat needed help, and she did not yet know just how much help she needed.

It was up to Nicki Valentine, her colleague, Kenna, her boyfriend, Dean, the local police, and various associates and friends made along the way to find Kat before it was too late. The story of how they do so is gripping and tense. So gripping and tense I almost decided to give the book a rather poor review - with its various dark and creepy sittings (including the tattoo shop, a strip club, the basement drug hole, and the sleazy hotels they spent time visiting) and the people they had to deal with (prostitutes and drug dealers). Two things changed my mind. In the midst of this dark story there were glimpses of grace in the lives of the main characters as they found opportunities to pray and put faith into action. Though not a Christian book, faith is still present as the reader moves through the book. The second mind changer was the commitment of the author to responding to the issue of human trafficking - not just in her writing but in her life’s personal commitments as well. Her commitment to the abused was helpful in understanding the darkness that surrounded this story.

Does this book belong in the Church library - probably not; but it certainly would be worth reading by any believer or other person who has a concern for the abused and misused children in our world and in America. Though sexuality is certainly a part of the story, it is not explicit and will most likely not be offensive to most readers. Though fictional, the story opened my eyes to the underside of American culture - a side I wish did not exist.
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This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Battlestar Galactica Six





Battlestar Galactica Six

Battlestar Galactica Six.jpg

by
J. T. Krul

A Review

The Cyclons are just beginning to wage war on the twelve colonies as the story begins. They have realized that their existence is superior to that of humans - in essence they have evolved from the beings that created them. Now they want to dominate. The are gathering forces.

This story appears to look at the story of Battlestar Galactica and the Cylon war that preceded it, not form the human point of view, but from that of the Cylons. One Cylon in particular, Eve, has seemed to lost her way. And is at some point caught between her role as a Cylon and her outward identity as a human. The final resolution of her conflict is not yet clear - time will tell.  

The artwork is well done - with a collection of modern graphic art and photographic images. The story is a bit difficult to follow and appears disjointed until close to the end of the book. The the ending is not entirely satisfying (hey, the author and illustrators do want the reader to read the next book in the series), it does begin to make some sense. Because the time period predates the original TV show, the connection to the earlier iterations of the series is hard to determine other than the presence the of Cylons themselves.  

For the reader willing to take another view of the Cylon war and its implications for the human race, this new line of comics just fill the bill. It was fun to relive some of what may have been in an earlier time.
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This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

NKJV Journal the Word Bible - A Review





NKJV
Journal the Word
Bible
NKJV Journal the Word Bible.jpg   NKJV Journal the Word Bible - 2 .jpg

A Review

The growth of Journaling Bibles has paralleled the growing interest in adult coloring books. This edition is a worthwhile addition to the available Journaling Bibles.

The larger print means there are fewer verses on each page that found in other Journaling Bibles - giving room for more creative efforts by the reader. The use of the well-received ESV in a Large Print edition will be welcome by those who have difficulty with normal sized print.  I also appreciate that the note taking space is on the outside margines, rather than trapped within the binding of the book. This allows for easier note taking or drawing. Finally, the pages appear a bit thicker than many similar Bibles - meaning that they are more easily turned as the reader makes his or her way from one passage to the next.

Two small concerns are also apparent - though the print is larger, the space reserved for notes or images does not appear larger than that found in other Bibles. Also, because of the larger print and heavier paper, the Bible is heavier than other Journaling Bibles. This is probably to be expected, but it also means that the very people who may be helped with the larger print may be hindered with the heavier book.

With an attractive, sturdy, hardback, binding, packaged in a cardboard wrapping (see the first image above), this Bible would make a great gift for the artist or older person. It is arriving just in time for Christmas and (in our family) birthdays. I expect that there will be an active audience for this version of what is becoming a standard presentation style for many modern Bible translations.
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This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

The Missing Matisse - A Review




A Memoir
The Missing Matisse

The Missing Matisse.jpg

by
Pierre H. Matisse

A Review

It appears that I am in the minority, but frankly I found this book to be disappointing. The description, the front cover, and the subject set me up for a boy and man who had survived the dangers of World War II France. Coming from a famous family, Pierre Matisse had gotten lost in the midst of history’s most famous war. This is the story of how he found himself again.

I was all set for an exciting true story; yet, I found the book to be boring. I could not get caught up in it. I would put it down for a week, hoping that my attitude would change when I again picked up the book. It did not. The sketches by the young Matisse at the beginning of each chapter did add some value to the book, but not enough for this reader.

Though I was not enticed by this author’s memoir, perhaps a WW II history buff may be as he or she connects the story of a real family with the events surrounding the allied invasion of France and the attempts of a nation to save itself. It did not work for me.   
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This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, November 28, 2016

365 Essential Questions From The Bible - A Review





365 Essential Questions
From The Bible
365 Essential Questions.jpg
by
Ed Strauss

A Review

Looking for sermon material for use after Advent? Here is one place I am looking. I earlier reviewed a book on 25 Questions God Asked, now I am presented with 365 Essential Questions From the Bible. Both present interesting material for developing a series of post Advent sermons.  And since I prefer Bible Studies to sermons, I have enjoyed reviewing the questions that God us mortals throughout the ages.  And I do not need to write these questions, One better than I did just that.

Mary Selzer has noted that there are some 3241 questions in the Bible. Now we look at nearly all the 450 questions that God asked in the 66 books that make us the Holy Scriptures.  For the most part, the questions asked are discussed in small devotional sized chunks.  But these discussions are not light - they require the reader to look at the world around them and to look at their own lives.

I found it difficult to find an order to the book. The devotionals and their related questions do not seem to be connected - they are not in Biblical order (though there is a Biblical index at the end of the book); I see no topical headings to suggest that they are arranged in topical order. The index is arranged by days, though my preview copy had no daily headings (NOTE: my e-copy was a reviewers copy, which is often not in a book’s final form).

The book would serve as a year long devotional for the established believer looking for something beyond the typical daily devotional available from various publishers. I might also serve a couple looking to deepen their own relationship with God.
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This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

A Very Blessed Christmas Coloring Book - A Review






Very Blessed Christmas Coloring Book.jpg


A Review

I am not the coloring book fan in my family - that privilege belongs to my wife. Besides buying colored pencils, pens, and supplies, she has taken classes at the local library and bookstores. She has made gifts for many of her friends and family, including yours truly.

This volume contains a variety of interesting pictures. Some are drawn from the traditional family Christmas setting, others display more of religious setting showing pictures of churches decorated for Christmas or typical Christmas angels. There are also a number of images that can be cutout and used for package tags or as part of larger craft projects. I was disappointed that there are few that show images of the original Christmas story - a manger scene, a group of shepherds or kings, a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.

There is plenty of room for creativity, color, and glitter in this book - but little room for the parent or crafter to teach the story of Jesus the baby. If you are looking for Christmas fun, this book may provide it, if you are wanting to use your art skills to share God’s story, look elsewhere.
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This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

The Biblical Greek Companion - A Review





Biblical Greek Companion.jpg



A Review

It was a year ago that I reviewed the companion volume, Biblical Hebrew Companion. I ended that review expressing hope that a similar book would be forthcoming for Biblical Greek. Now it has.   

Similar to the earlier volume, this 100+ page reference book serves as a simple desk dictionary/encyclopedia on Biblical Greek Syntax and Morphology.  It is not designed to teach Greek, other books do that well; but to assist the user in understanding how the various syntactical and morphological issues can be used to better understand the Greek used in the New Testament. The author, in his introduction, does a good job of summarizing the audience to which this work is best addressed:

  1. Pastors and other ministry leaders who may have learned biblical Greek at one time, but have experienced the loss of much of that learning because of the time demands of life and ministry;
  2. College and seminary students who are engaged in a biblical Greek language course, but who could use this resource as a supplement to provide easily accessible and simplified explanations, along with clear biblical examples;
  3. College and seminary students who are enrolled in an academic program that no longer requires them to learn the biblical languages, but who wish to have access to the wealth of available resources for original-language study;
  4. Those who have never had the opportunity, resources, or inclination to learn the paradigms, vocabulary, grammar, and syntax of biblical Greek, but would still like to benefit from the deeper insights into the Bible that Greek study can provide

As with the earlier work, I wish I had it by my side while learning Greek - as it takes each major part of speech, each verbal conjunction, each grammatical construction and gives insight to the reader on its role in the language. The entries try to address three questions:

  1. What does it look like?
  2. What does it do?
  3. How it might effect the exegesis of a passage?

A number of appendices add value as they bring together lists of topics that don’t fit elsewhere: The Greek Alphabet, Punctuation, ect. Also included are a scripture index and a suggested bibliography for further study grouped by topic.
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This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.