Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rebel Fire A Review

Rebel Fire

Andrew Lane

A Review

By no means am I a Sherlock Holmes expert - but I have enjoyed the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for nearly 50 years.  I found myself continuing to enjoy Holmes’ adventures in Rebel Fire.  

In Rebel Fire, originally published in England under the title Red Leech, we find adolescent Holmes living under the care of (though not with) his brother Mycroft. Holmes stumbles upon a group of men (including John Wilkes Booth)  in England who are bent on changing the outcome of the Civil War.  The story takes us from Holmes childhood home in rural England by Steamer to New York City to rural Virginia - where members of the confederacy are establishing a new army in hopes again establishing a country which would legalize slavery.  

Holmes, with the help of two friends, must find a way to stop, first the confederacy from re-establishing itself and then the American government from massacring the new Confederate army.

Though written for young readers, I found the book to be entertaining, to this 60 year old reader, in its own right.  It had the right level of excitement, intrigue, and color.  We are introduced to Holmes fascination with the Violin, his sympathies with the American republic, and the source of some of his detective skills so evident in the tales told by Dr. John H. Watson.  Though I can find no other source - the author also introduces us Sherlock Holmes middle name.

I will look forward to reading Andrew Lane’s earlier book which also featured the young Sherlock Holmes, Death Cloud.  The author also hints at a third, untitled, book coming in this series.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

God Loves Broken People: A Review


Sheila Walsh

A Review

Some books are fun to read.  Some books an encouragement.  Some books serve as a great reference.  Sheila Walsh’s latest book is all three.  

As I read, I thought I was reading something that I could have written.  One of the themes of my ministry is that we are all broken people in need of God’s grace.  Long ago, I learned to rephrase Thomas Harris’ classic popular “I’m OK - You’re OK”:

I’m not OK,
You’re not OK,
And that’s OK

It is a theme that Sheila Walsh also picks up in her first chapter.  I found the lessons in the book both helpful and true.  Written by a person that had to walk through tough times to finally understand what it means to experience the grace of God.  

The book is composed of stories and truths.  The stories are of those who have experienced brokenness in their lives.  The truths are rooted in scripture - and are valid for us all.  
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cuts Like A Knife: A Review


Mark Gilroy

A Review

Cuts Like A Knife was either about a very dumb detective or it was written by a very poor writer.  That was my initial opinion about half way through the book.  I may have been right, I may have been wrong.  But whichever, the book was worth the time I spent working through the story.

Kristen is a Chicago cop and the daughter of a Chicago cop.  Though her father had died the previous year, he was a well-respected member of the force.  And that connection provided part of the support needed for the promotion to detective.  

What she did not know was that she was the primary target of a serial killer - his fifty-third target.  But it was not only her life that was in danger, but it included her partner, Don, the team composed of CPD cops and the FBI assigned to the case, and her family that were at risk.

Though the story focuses on the search, identification, and capture of the serial killer, there is also a glimpse at what the God’s grace can offer to broken people - even people who do not know they are broken.  Kristen needs to experience that grace, but she also learns to share that grace with those around her.  

Written entirely in the first person, by Kristen, a Chicago based blogger, and the serial killer himself, the story holds the reader’s attention from chapter one (written by the serial killer) to the last page.  I will look forward to future books from this new author.

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.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mondays With My Old Pastor - A Review

Mondays With My Old Pastor

José Luis Navajo

A Review

Many pastors have experience burnout - or nearly so.  The writer (the author?) is at that point in his life.  He finds himself at an end, with nothing else to give - to give to his church, to his family, or to himself.  

The writer’s wife suggests a visit to his old pastor - a man who, after many years in ministry, has retired to that house with a blue door and roses along the path leading away from that door.  

More a fable than a novel, the lessons that the writer learns from that wise old man serve as stepping stones to rebuilding his life and rebuilding his excitement for ministry.  As I picked up the book, I thought I was going to read a true story, much like Tuesday With Morrie - and I am still not quite sure how much is fiction and how much is a retelling of events that happened in the author’s life.  

Each chapter has the wise pastor or his wife telling one or more stories that communicate truths that pastors will need to remember and/or practice throughout their ministry if they are to be successful.  As the writer says, “...the passage of time has caused me to understand that in every desert there is a cross that brings restoration.  It’s only a question of looking for it and taking shelter in its shade.”  Later, he will note that “Life does not begin when you’re twenty, or when you’re forty.  Life starts at Calvary.”

The truths of each chapter resonated with me - and brought encouragement to me as I approach the end of my own career in ministry.  Perhaps it will to yours as well.
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.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

She Danced

I have no idea who she was - her sister and mother sat at a nearby table eating a meal. But now the meal was over. And the music started.

I couldn't hear it but she did. She was only four, probably not even in school. But she heard the music.

How do I know? I saw her dance. As they gathered their trash, she moved away from the table; no, she danced away from the table. She did a pirouette as her mother put her sister in the stroller, which was followed by a curtsy as she reached out to the stroller's handles. She took four steps back and took steps as a ballerina back to her mother.

The dance was over - the family moved on. And though I could not hear it, I could not but wonder if the music did not continue.

What music have I missed? What music have I not heard because I was too busy with life? Maybe, if I learned to listen, I, too, could dance to the music.

Floyd H. Johnson

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

One Click - A Review

One Click:
Jeff Bezos and the Rise of


Richard L. Brandt

A Review

This book was not fiction, but I found it as exciting and as fun to read as many of the fictional thrillers that I have read over the past year. Having grown up in the computer generation (I first used a computer as a senior in high school in 1967-68) and having spent much of my career in Computer Science Education, I found the book a fun way to cap my career as I enter retirement.

Jeff Bezos’ career was an exciting trip from Texas to Washington state. But it was not only a geographical trip, but also an education in business, technology, and personnel. Though the company started with packaging on the floor - the need to add tables seemed to come as a complete surprise to Jeff Bezos.

The reader looking for an insider’s look at a successful dot com company that had its start in the 90’s, would find One Click a gentle read into that history.
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.

Striking Back : A Review

Striking Back


Mark Nykanen

A Review

Mark Nykanen has created a thriller that until the last page could have any number of results - and that is what held this reader’s attention from the first page. Gwyn Sanders had the unwanted task of running a psychotherapy group for a group of wife abusers - a group that was slowly being killed off. The result was a murder mystery that was just right to involve the characters of Criminal Minds, though they are in no way involved.

The suspect list, both the official one, compiled by the police, and the unofficial one, compiled by Gwyn, seemed to be unending. The biggest problem was that the list, the official one at least, began with Gwyn, a woman with a past that included a deceased father whose death 20 some years ago might be blamed on her as well. The list also includes her boyfriend, her mother, her mother’s boyfriend, among others.

Set in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the characters move from lofts, to the beach, to the local coffee shop, and an expansive (or expensive) home built along the beach. I felt like I had moved back home - and enjoyed the journey that Mark Nykanen took me on.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.