Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Body In The Landscape - A Review

The Body In The Landscape

Larissa Reinhart

A Review

I found the body.
Actually, if you want to get technical, I found his hat, then the body.
I had escaped the guests at Big Rack Lodge to do a spot of plein air painting,
when my peaceful Monet-inspired afternoon took a nasty turn toward disturbing.
Landscapes aren’t even my usual genre.
I’m a portrait painter.
But how often do I get a free weekend getaway
in the countryside that included a portrait commission?

I’ll tell you how often. A big fat never

The first seven sentences of the book are perfect – they set the mood, the setting, and introduce the main character. What more could you wish for from a fun romp in rural Georgia on a late fall weekend. Oh, did I mention it is a cozy mystery as well.

Unless you happen to be Cherry Tucker, the unlucky artist who found the first body. Or unless you happened to be Abel Spencer – the unlucky owner of the first body. Or a member of the hunting party who were individually being considered as a suspect. Or …. maybe it was not such a perfect afternoon after all.

Cherry Tucker and her entourage (which included a friendly, but odd, Russian, two boyfriends, one a barely available Mr. McDreamy, the other nice and considerate and very available, and her ex-sheriff dad that taught her everything she knew and more than she ought to know) would be present to keep track of each possible suspect and finally locate the guilty party.

The story was a fun read – though some day's events seemed to take more than the normal 24 hours to accomplish. Max, the friendly Russian, had valuable advice – both about the crime and Cherry's love live. Todd, the considerate and available boyfriend, would take off with nary a goodbye. And Luke, the barely available Mr. McDreamy, was available by phone, though he could not get away for the week's events or murders.

I enjoyed the historical discussion surrounding the existence of hogzilla, both in Georgia and throughout history. One sign of an interesting read is that I am forced to visit the web to fill in my knowledge at some level; hogzilla did exactly that. As the reader picks up the book, be prepared to be educated, entertained, and excited as you, too, discover The Body in the Landscape.
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.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Man With The Golden Typewriter - A Review

Man With The Golden Typewriter

Ian Fleming's James Bond Letters


edited by

Fergus Fleming

A Review

I like reading. I also like writing. It is rare that we get to see inside the life of a man who define much of the drama and thrills of the 20th century, but as we look at Ian Fleming’s letters and just enough editorial comment to help them make sense, this is exactly what we are able to do.  

Ian Fleming grew up in a childhood that left him deprived. He spent much of his life trying to fill his life with those things which were missing. This book is the story of his search - not a novel, not an essay, a series of letters which show his innermost thoughts and concerns.

As we follow the letters, presented in the same order his books were written, we see the literary politics that are a part of a major writer’s life - whether it be with publishers, bookstores, or media moguls. We see the negotiation that eventually leads to a best seller. And we see the emotions, the anguish, the satisfaction that follows the author as he makes tiny changes to accommodate the requests of reviewers and editors.

We also see the literary giants that Ian Fleming allowed to surround his life. Some are friends, some are critics - but the correspondence is interesting. The give and take is lively and active. Occasionally pieces are missing as the family has withheld some of the correspondence, but not as much as one might fear when first hearing about the missing documents.

The result is a book that is as dramatic, as interesting, and, at times, as intense, as the best books of fiction on a store’s shelves. Looking for a true story that will keep the reader involved as the author develops during his career.    

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 3, 2015

The Unsee Realm - A Review

The Unseen Realm

Michael S. Heiser

A Review

I know that many are fans of Michael Heiser. I am not. That is not because I have a problem with him or his writing, I just am not familiar with him. I do not have enough knowledge of his work to be or not to be a fan. Having said that, I found the current volume to be a significant improvement to his earlier work, I Dare You To Bore Me With The Bible.

As I read the current work, I felt as if the author had access to my previous review prior to writing this book. Such concerns as a lack of an index (this book has two, including a Subject Index and a Scripture Index). References and footnotes are provided throughout the text. In addition, a companion website provides additional bibliographic materials. The companion website also contains a discussion guide - which delves more deeply into the topics covered in the text.

Having been trained in the sciences, where most textbooks include discussion questions and problem sets allowing the student to check their understanding of the topics, I have often wondered why there are not similar pages in the texts for other disciplines - including theology. Though not a standard adopted by publishers, this would appear to be the major lapse in the current text (and most theological texts). That fact notwithstanding, the current book is worth the time spent reading, considering, and responding to its contents. I would encourage many to take the time to partake of the author’s thought and conclusions.

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, October 27, 2015

Paint The Town Dead - A Review

A Review

Life in Southern California can be deadly, especially when Rory Anderson (independent IT specialist, artist, and sleuth) and her cadre of friends get involved. Rory’s first shock came when a rock came flying through the front window of her home. The second shock came when her friend Jasmine died on the Ocean Painting Society’s Convention floor.

The convention was being held at the newly opened Akaw, a multi-story resort facility with multiple ballrooms and restaurants. It was sufficiently large, that murderers, saboteurs, and pranksters could move about, undetected by cameras, staff, or law enforcement. And that would make finding the guilty party or parties all the more difficult.
The story was one that kept this reader up at night - the book had to be finished, I could not sleep without discovering who did it. The plot included enough plausible suspects and enough crimes that one felt like he or she might be playing BINGO with the possible combinations. The result is a fun read which will hold the interest of any cozy mystery fan, providing a wonderful winter’s night read.
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.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Frost Bible - A Review

Frost Bible.jpg

Thomas Nelson Publishers

A Review

I never thought I would say this - but I was disappointed in this Bible. Having adopted the “Frost” name, I expected this Bible to be of interest to a child who was enthralled with the Disney movie Frozen.  Having now seen the Bible, I no longer think this is the case. To verify my opinion, I also checked with my wife, an experienced preschool teacher; she agreed with my assessment.

With few exceptions, the Frost Bible is more a pew Bible than a devotional Bible or a Study Bible for any audience, even more so for the apparent intended audience. The few things that distinguish it from a pew bible are an included tote bag and 8-12 sheets of colored images. Those images have no connection to Frozen.  Also, the front cover and binding (not the back cover) has a “frosty” feel that might seem exciting if it added anything. Four color maps, much like you would expect to find in a pew Bible, are also included.

I had hoped this Bible would be a suitable Christmas gift for a Frozen enthralled grandchild. I will not be giving it this year. There are other and better choices for the granddaughter or grandson - The Frost Bible will not do.

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.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

NIrV Giant Print Holy Bible - A Review

NIrV Giant Print Bible.jpg

A Review

An easy to read Bible version designed for early readers. For many this will mean children, but this edition of the Bible is not designed for children. Given its large print, simple study helps (a dictionary and a list of 150 famous Bible stories) the book is more suitable for those learning English as a Second Language. Though it may not appear to be its target audience, it also might be suitable for use in family reading in families with young children.  

Missing from this edition are many of the standard features found in most Bibles - book introductions, cross references (except when a verse is quoted directly from an earlier book), or instructional helps.  Don’t purchase this Bible as a study Bible or a stand alone devotional Bible. Rooted in the NIV, the NIrV included in this publication has been updated to changes in the latest edition of the NIV.

As I prepared this review, I took time to read a few sections - though I am not a early reader, I found the passages encouraging and uplifting.  I suspect, even as I did, others will as well.

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.

Action Bible: ESV Study Bible - A Review

The Action Bible
Study Bible ESV

Action Bible ESV  Study Bible.jpg

A Review

Using the same artist, The Action Bible ESV Study Bible is aimed at a slightly older population than the earlier Action Bible.  Including the complete text of the ESV, an abundance of self study devotional questions, and a few snippets of the visuals that defined the earlier work. A variety of indexes add additional value to the book.

While the earlier Action Bible appears to be designed for the 9-12 year old child, this version would appear to be designed for the junior high or middle school student. Note, this differs slightly from the publisher’s recommendations, who suggests slightly younger age groups for each of the two books. Having said that, it should also be noted that the devotional material may be encouraging to Christians of any age from 12 on up.  With the assistance of parents, it may even be used by younger children.

The devotional self study material consists of Bible memory suggestions, answers to tough questions about faith, brief insights to important Bible passages or events, trivia questions, historical insights, application helps, and more. Those sections also illustrated in the Action Bible are marked in the margins of the current book for cross reference if desired.  Much of this material is also indexed for future reference.

Though I am within a few weeks of reaching my normal retirement age, I found this version of enough interest and help to install the e-book I received on my e-reader for regular access and easy reading. I suspect many other readers will want to do the same.

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.