Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Miracle Drug - A Review

Miracle Drug.jpg

A Review

He was not the world’s greatest doctor, he was not even the smartest in medical school.  Yet he had been appointed to be the next primary care physician for David Madison, the former President of the United States.  And he had no idea why.

Though he was not the smartest guy in the world, he quickly became responsible for saving the life of the ex-President and his soon-to-be girlfriend. The disease they shared was easy to identify - but curing it became much more difficult.  And finding the cause would become more difficult still. And yet that is what fell into Dr. Josh Pearson’s lap.

The reader is introduced to the story by a preface full of disclaimers.  As I said to my wife, this book has more disclaimers than a bottle of medicine. This preface tends to make the reader feel that the plot is more science fiction than a medical thriller - which is far from the truth. The actual story begins in Bogota, Columbia, but moves quickly to Zale Lipsy Hospital in Dallas, TX.  The reader quickly becomes aware this he or she is reading a medical thriller. Dr. Mabry, a practicing physician, has not disappointed. As the story develops, we are introduced to the Secret Service, the Dallas Police Department, and the staff which continues to assist the former President in his day-to-day tasks. And together they will either contribute to Mr. Madison’s ills, seek to discover its cause, or work toward a cure, a miracle drug as it were.

The book will hold the reader’s attention as the action and accusations move across the southern tier of the United States. Waiting to discover who is helping and who is hindering the discovery of the guilty. There are enough twists and turns to make a compelling story is worth the time spent reading. I expect that most will enjoy the time they spend between this book’s pages.

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.

Monday, October 5, 2015

I Dare You Not To Bore Me With The Bible - A Review

I Dare You Not to
Bore Me With the Bible

I Dare You Not To Bore Me With the Bible Cover.jpg

Michael S. Heiser

A Review

The current volume seems like a book that seems to have no purpose, but that I found extremely interesting.

Let me begin with a disclaimer - I am a regular user of LOGOS Bible software, but I do not subscribe to Bible Study magazine published by the same company. Having said that, it should be noted that the route that this book took toward publication included a stop in Bible Study magazine. The essays collected here began as a series of lectures (or parts of lectures) in the author’s classroom. From there, they were transformed into essays published in Bible Study magazine. The essays were then collected and reprinted in the book form found here. I appreciated the broad range of topics discussed from the Old Testament and the New Testament. In addition, the author often throws in a few interesting tidbits of information (“Quickbits”) to whet the reader’s appetite for more details.

Other than the author’s lectures and essays, there is little that connects the various pieces of this book together. But that does not mean that the pieces are not of interest. Each essay forced this reader to think and evaluate his own understanding. I could get no further than the second essay and I was forced to rethink the meaning and purpose inerrancy - a major proponent of both my seminary training and my denominational choice. I found the anecdotes and background material fascinating as I read.

The essays have been rearranged Biblically, rather than in the order originally written - in fact, other than a short statement in the preface, there is no indication of the exact location where the original essays are located or the order in which they were produced.  In addition, each of the author’s main points are well documented from scripture, but there is little other secondary or primary sources for the reader to assist in further study. This lack of bibliographic detail is the major flaw in the book. There are some, but most of the independent essays lack the needed supporting material.

The electronic version of the book I received had no indexing - it would be hoped that a paper edition would include a thorough Biblical index. This should include both an index of the passages discussed and of the Biblical material referenced throughout the book. These missing elements are not significant in an e-book as searching can reproduce many of the needed references. Scripture is so important to the author’s arguments, that would be a significant hole in a paper edition.

Though not designed as a devotional book, the design and layout of the book might allow some readers to use it as such. Others would want to use it as a reference book for the variety of problems and issues addressed. The book would be a welcome addition to the supplemental reading used in a Bible survey course for the Bible College or Seminary student. The pastor may find it of some use as a source of sermon illustrations and teaching resources.  For some the young Christian, the essays may present a challenge to their faith.
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.

Vendetta - A Review


Vendetta - Cover.jpg

A Review

The book begins with Nikki Boyd hanging off the edge of the cliff she and her friend Tyler were attempting to rappel down. Easy enough, except that her rope was caught on a sharpened rock and she was 150 feet below the rock hanging onto the rope that was in danger of being sawed in two by that same rock. That opening scene sets the tone for the remainder of the book.

With the help of her friend, Nikki was able to work her way down the cliff, but no sooner did they begin to relax and the call came that would dangle another rope in her life - a rope that had roots going back years when her sister had been kidnapped and disappeared from the map. A rope that had led her into Law Enforcement generally, and into state’s Missing Person Task Force specifically. Now, another young teen had been kidnapped and the similarities to her sister’s case were too close to ignore.

The author draws the reader into Nikki’s adventure and into the beauty of the surrounding Smoky Mountains, the Obed River, and the rapids which bring tourists each year. Though scheduled for a fall release, the events take place during the early days of spring. The writer also introduces the reader to the (fictional) people that they might meet if they were to visit the area.  With the exception of the kidnapping, the book makes a compelling argument for a visit to the area to enjoy the scenery and the portion of the Appalachian Trail which runs through the area.  

The story will hold the reader’s attention - as the law enforcement team, rangers, and volunteers, attempt to locate the missing child and the person who kidnapped her. Nikki also hopes, really hopes, she might discover what became of her sister so many years ago. With a hint of faith and a very light hint of romance, Vendetta may satisfy many readers of modern thrillers. Be warned, before the reader is through with the book, he or she may miss a few nights of sleep to more quickly find the answers. And expect, as does this reviewer, to be wanting more from Lisa Harris and Nikki Boyd.

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, September 29, 2015

7 Women - A Review

7 Women Cover.jpg

A Review

Six months ago Eric Metasas wrote a set of biographies based on the lives of 7 Men who influenced not only their own generation, but continue to influence ours.  Earlier this month, he did the same for seven significant women.

The seven women chosen to review are

  1. Joan of Arc
  2. Susanna Wesley
  3. Hannah More
  4. Saint Maria of Paris
  5. Corrie ten Boom
  6. Rosa Parks
  7. Mother Teresa

The format of the biographies are similar to those used in the earlier book except that in the earlier book each chapter concluded with a summary of the significance of each man chosen for review.  In the current book, the biographical sketch concludes with a few paragraphs on the later influence of each woman on society. The stories are worth the time spent reading and reflecting on them. Beside being great devotional material for all believers, they could also support the pastor looking for material to illustrate weekly sermons. The two books are recommended for all looking to examine the life of Christians who have effected the world they were called to serve.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. All opinions are mine alone.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Fruitcake Murders - A Reviews

The Fruitcake Murders
Fruitcake Murders Cover.jpg
Ace Collins

A Review

The first murder occurred in December 1926 - and they convicted and executed the man caught with the murder weapon in his hand.

But then the murders started again in December 1946.  They were connected - the victims had been drugged and then clobbered with a heavy, full fruitcake can. But there were differences - they came from different cultural groups: the district attorney, the homeless, a hooker. And it would take a newspaper reporter, a police detective, and a private eye to collect the pieces of the puzzle that would bring all the pieces together into a complete picture that gave meaning to the deaths that spanned two decades.

The book brings together the right amount of mystery, history, romance, and a bit of faith, to make an interesting story that had to be read quickly to maximize its enjoyment. I wanted to pick the book up every free moment I had - I had to finish it.

For the reader looking for an early winter read, The Fruitcake Murders might just fill the need.  

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, September 22, 2015

The Carols of Christmas - A Review

The Carols or Christmas cover.jpg

A Review

A well-done study of 21 of the carols that help us remember many of the themes that surround the Christmas holiday. Rather than taking a devotional perspective (like those done by Robert Morgan), the author has chosen to apply an academic approach as he introduces us to the hymns.  

The “Introduction” serves to help us understand the role Christmas carols play in Western society - including a look at their historical, theological, and denominational backgrounds. The introduction is a broad picture of what will come later as the author looks at the individual hymns.

The bulk of the book takes the reader through a group of 21 hymns in Biblical order - beginning with a hymn appropriate for use during all of Advent, moving through the days leading up to Christmas proper, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, the angels, the shepherds, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” and Epiphany.  The final hymn is “Jingle Bells.”  As can be seen the author includes both examples of secular songs and those with a more spiritual tone (e.g. “Away in A Manger,” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”)  The roots of the words (Biblical or not) and the music are explored.  Some of the stories associated with the music or words are full of as much mystery as a good Sherlock Holmes tale - with the true nature of their origins hidden till some unexpected source brought them to light. Though the focus is certainly academic, there are hints of devotional thoughts.  For example, as he concludes his look at “While Shepherds Watched”, the author notes that “... the full richness and variety of its history will, like the shepherds, have to wait.”  

Over the fifteen years I have served in the pulpit, I have occasionally taken my congregation through the history and setting of the church’s hymns. As I read Gant’s look at the Christmas carols, I am considering doing a similar series for the carols of Christmas. I expect it might be fun to look at the stories behind the carols as we have done with hymns in the past.

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.

Deadlock - A Review

Deadlock Cover.jpg
DiAnn Mills

A Review

DiAnn Mills is a good author - I have enjoyed her earlier books. However, though definitely Christian, the current book seems more like a Harlequin Romance than an FBI thriller. FBI Special Agent Bethany Sanchez and her new partner, FBI Special Agent Thatcher Graves, would need to work together to find the Scorpion Murderer and those accomplices that made his crimes so brutal.  The mystery, thriller was very much there and held my interest - especially as it moved further into the book.

The book did seem, as I said earlier, more like a Harlequin Romance, than the usual FBI thriller I had come to expect from the author. For example, in the first chapter alone, we find the following:

On this gray morning, she was beginning a violent crime assignment and would meet her new partner, Special Agent Thatcher Graves, the man who’d sent her brother to jail. …

Beyond there she’d find Special Agent Thatcher Graves. Her gaze pulled ahead. She wanted the partnership to work so badly that her blood pressure flared at the thought of it. She moved through the room to the kitchen. Thatcher bent behind the crime scene tape, where the body had been found. He glanced up, his earth-colored eyes stormy.

Neither the mystery nor the romance slows down for the remainder of the book. I recognize that many readers will want this somewhat fairytale style of romance, but this pastor felt that the picture painted by the author in this book was an unrealistic and unhealthy picture of a growing relationship between two believers. The book was not written to provide advice to the lovelorn, but it sets an unhelpful example for believers young in their faith.

Thus, the mystery was enjoyed, the romance less so. If the reader can set aside the fairy tale romance as a fairy tale, he or she might just enjoy this FBI thriller.

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.