Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Sparkle and Changed International Children's Bible - A Review






Sparkle and Change
International Children’s Bible


publisher
Tommy Nelson




With the exception of the cover and some of the colors chosen for trim on the inside, these Bibles are identical. Using reversible sequins, they would appeal to girls from 1st through 4th grade. The 24 pages of full color helps include short essays, suggested Bible memory verses, and maps. Important verses are highlighted - though the paper is so thin that highlighting from the reverse side often appears on the reverse side of the sheet:


The highlighting above actually is from the verse (Psalm 139:23-24) on the previous page. A quick glance of this whole page looks as if four verses are highlighted - all four are from the previous page. The thin pages might make the Bible difficult to handle for a child - it is difficult to turn back a single page and pages may be easily torn.

The translation reads easily:

16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God gave his Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him. 18 He who believes in God’s Son is not judged guilty. He who does not believe has already been judged guilty, because he has not believed in God’s only Son. 19 People are judged by this fact: I am the Light from God that has come into the world. But men did not want light. They wanted darkness because they were doing evil things. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light. He will not come to the light because it will show all the evil things he has done. 21 But he who follows the true way comes to the light. Then the light will show that the things he has done were done through God.”

I am not qualified to evaluate the translation, per se. But neither is a child - if the stones can deliver the Word of God (Luke 19:40), so can this translation.

The publisher suggests that both version of this Bible are aimed at a feminine audience - similar resources need to made available for the boys in the church.
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This review is based on a free copies provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.





Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Code of Valor - A Review






Code of Valor


by
Lynette Eason

A stolen boat and a missing friend lead to a case human trafficking involving law enforcement at many levels — local, state, and national. Emily Chastain would put her life on the line to find both the perpetrators and the victims. But in the process her own faith and the faith of those around her would be tested and proved. Lynette Eason has written a dramatic and intense thriller that will hold the reader’s attention from beginning to end. I would easily give the book a 5-star rating, except for one problem.

There is a “but” however. The book dealt with a major theme in law enforcement in the 21st century, human trafficking. The book does not provide resources for the average reader to find additional help. No web sites allowing the reader to learn more. No way to determine the size of the problem in local communities or within individual states. No signs or symptoms to suggest where help may found by somebody in trouble. No phone numbers to call for help if seen. The resources are there (see https://www.state.gov/j/tip/id/help/ for one site.)

Yes, this is a work of fiction, but the problems are real. It would make sense to add a list of resources as an appendix or addendum or even a single website where this information could found if needed, especially from a book coming with a Christian imprint. But there was nothing. I was disappointed.

I have no problem recommending the book for reading, having written a good story. I, however, would expect the author or publisher to take the initiative to assist the reader in understanding the larger issues involved.
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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.









Monday, January 7, 2019

In Too Deep - A Review






In Too Deep


by
Lynn H. Blackburn

The story — plot, theme, characters — was well written. It was intense and held this reader’s attention. 

The Carrington, NC, dive team has just pulled a body from the water. Not sure whether they were looking at a suicide or an accident victim, they begin to examine the body. What they found surprised them. On her abdomen were found the words, "They killed me. Ask Adam Campbell." It was not an unfamiliar name - Adam was a white-­collar crimes investigator and was not usually called to the scene of a traffic accident. And that is where the story begin - with Adam's cell phone ringing just as Sunday dinner was starting for his extended family.

There is a “but” however. The book dealt with a major theme in law enforcement in the 21st century, human trafficking. The book does not provide resources for the average reader to find additional help. No web sites allowing the reader to learn more. No way to determine the size of the problem in local communities or within individual states. No signs or symptoms to suggest where help may found by somebody in trouble. No phone numbers to call for help if seen. The resources are there (see https://www.state.gov/j/tip/id/help/ for one site.)

Yes, this is a work of fiction, but the problems are real. It would make sense to add a list of resources as an appendix or addendum or even a single website where this information could found if needed, especially from a book coming with a Christian imprint. But there was nothing. I was disappointed.

I have no problem recommending the book for reading. Having written a good story, I would expect the author or publisher to take the initiative to assist the reader understand the larger issues involved.
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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.

Chosen People - A Review






Chosen People


by
Robert Whitlow

There are few authors that I look forward to reading whenever a new book comes to the market. Robert Whitlow is one of those authors for this reader. Chosen People does not disappoint.

Weaving the stories of believers and unbelievers from three different cultures, Robert Whitlow introduces the reader to the difficulties faced as cultures collide in Jerusalem. Beginning with a terrorist attack in Hurva Square in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, it becomes the job of two lawyers from different firms in Atlanta, GA, to tie the attack to specific actors that can be sued for the death of a mother in that attack. The evidence is weak and it would take a trip to the Holy Land to understand the crime and the people involved.

In the process, the reader is given a tour of Jerusalem and some of the surrounding area. We also are given a picture of life for the 21st century inhabitant of the middle east. The author takes us to the Western Wall, the Garden Tomb, as well as the site of the terrorist attack, Hurva Square. Though not the focus of the book, Whitlow manages to also weave in a bit of history and culture.

As expected, Whitlow delivers another legal thriller that holds the reader’s attention from beginning to end. Unlike his other books, the plot is now focused on international law — an added bonus. The book could easily find a place in a home, church, or public library. And it will make a good Winter read for most readers. It is easy to give this book a five-star review.
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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.








Monday, December 17, 2018

NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible - A Review








(see my earlier review at http://bit.ly/NIVZSB)

Welcome to (one of) the best modern Study Bible available in 2018. A number of features make it stand out. The first obvious indication of its value is its size. Containing 2500+ pages of Biblical text, notes, essays, concordance, and maps — this thing is HUGE. But more important than this is the range of authorship (something I missed in my earlier review). Authors come from a range of institutions — Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (my alma mater), Wheaton College, Asbury Seminary, Baylor University, Westminster Theological Seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary, etc. The authors include men who mentored me, men whom I have read, and some that are new to me. There seems to be a missing diversity in gender and, perhaps, ethnicity (more difficult to verify). Though the book has a somewhat Baptist/Reformed flavor, the editor has drawn from a wide variety of sources.

The notes are extensive, occupying nearly 20% of most pages — and given that the notes use a slightly smaller font than the Biblical text itself, they truly contribute to 25% or more of the text. Along with the notes, helpful full-color charts and maps are scattered throughout the book to help the reader grasp the broader structure of the text. There are also nearly 30 essays addressing topics which typically cross the normal divisions of scripture such as testaments, books, authors, etc. Some of these essay discuss topics such as

* The Story of the Bible: How the Good News About Jesus is Central by Timothy Keller
The Bible and Theology by D. A. Carson
* A Biblical-Theological Overview by D. A. Carson
Death and Resurrection by Philip S. Johnston
The Consummation by Douglas J. Moo

An extensive concordance is also included along with a 14 map atlas (note: maps, as mentioned earlier, are also embedded in the notes as well).

Weaknesses are few. Though there is a wide theological diversity demonstrated among the contributors, the lack of gender diversity is too obvious. The font of the notes sometimes seems too small. Thankfully the text of this Study Bible is available in a number of digital versions including Kindle and LOGOS. Finally, be aware that this book was published as recently as 2015 under a different title, NIV Zondervan Study Bible. I have this book in both hard copy, as a Kindle book, and as a LOGOS e-book. A brief survey suggests there is no difference between the earlier version of the book and the current one.
As I wrote earlier, while reviewing the previous edition: I have a few favorite Study Bibles - the NIV Zondervan Study Bible will/has become another of those favorites. I will be consulting it often — I suspect others will as well. The same can be said for the newer NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible.
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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.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Infographic Bible - A Review











The Infographic Bible is a colorful book full of useful details. However, the type face is so small and the font color so light, it is often hard to read and understand the information included by the author. The book, thus, becomes more of a coffee table book, than a useful reference book.

One must begin by stating that this is not a Bible — but a set of images designed to convey information to the reader. The images do stand out and are vivid. They draw the reader’s attention immediately to the pictures. But the font chosen to accompany the illustrations is so small as to make them difficult to read. Contributing to this is that the colors chosen for many of the fonts do not contrast well with the page background. Finally, it must be noted that though the images are designed to convey information, there is no data to support the claims made by the illustrations. “Sources” are given, but it appears that the data gleaned from the sources comes in a variety of ways. Sometimes it is directly inferred from the sources, but at other times it is only indirectly drawn from the sources referenced.

Several improvements would make this book more useful.

  1. Be sure that all data is thoroughly referenced using standard footnotes 
  2. Reduce the size of the graphics and increase the size of the fonts 
  3. Provide the book in an electronic format that would allow images and fonts to be enlarged 
  4. Allow a book designer to review the finished book to ensure that information is clear and readable — this includes both the sizes and the colors used throughout the book. 
I had looked forward to reviewing this book, but was disappointed with the final product.
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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.

Fatality In F - A Review








Core Christianity cover.jpg

Murder and classical music seem to go together for Gethsemane Brown. And she has done it again. Gethsemane, her cohort of community friends, and one almost friendly ghost, Eamon McCarthy, are again called upon to the murder mystery surrounding The International Rose Hybridizers’ Association. Watching Gethsemane living in an Irish community with its mythos and culture, is as much fun as watching her solve the current problem standing before her.

As expected, Alexia Gordon has produced an enjoyable cozy mystery that will hold the reader's attention from page one. But Alexia Gordon also adds a brief introduction to the classical music world as she introduces us to the composers and music that are part of that world. The author does not focus on just the names that most neophytes might know, but also lesser known names (at least to this author) from the classical music genre such as Prokofiev’s ‘Prologue from The Tale of the Stone Flower’ or Strauss’s ‘Roses from The South’. A quick search on Google and the reader can verify the facts presented by Ms. Gordon, learn more about the composer, and listen to the pieces referenced in the book. It might be possible for the publisher to create a website supporting this successful author and the musical references made in her books.

The book is great just as a cozy mystery read. This book easily earns its 5-star review. However, for those in high school or college, it might serve as a lighter text in those institutions highlighting “Reading Across the Curriculum” or “Writing Across the Curriculum”. Combined with a writing and listening assignment, it could also easily integrate into an appropriate course.
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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.