Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Refined - A Review

A Review

Mark and Julie Bolling with their three children had gone to Kenya to serve the people of Mombasa and environs.  But when news arrived from the states, they found their family being torn apart - literally.  The relationship between Mark’s father and himself had always been rocky, but the news they received that equaled a family level earthquake.  

The relationships were real - real enough that, at times, I wanted to pray for the characters. I found myself hating them and loving them at the same time.  These were men and women who knew Jesus or knew his followers, but they did not always understand how God could allow their world to crumble.  But as the reader makes his or her way through the book, we gain an appreciation for the good news offered by Christ through his death on the cross.  We see how even believers can struggle with the challenges that life can present.

We also are given a picture of God breaking through the resistant veneer that can be a part of life - the life of both the non-believer and the life of the believer.  The pain while waiting and resisting God is real.  On the other hand, the release that God provides when we turn our lives over to him is amazing - no wonder, a favorite hymn is called “Amazing Grace.”   

I loved the book.  But be aware that this book does not stand alone and is very dependent on having read the author’s earlier Razed.  That fact frustrated me as I read the earlier book, but that frustration was easily satisfied with the reading of this title.  I will look forward to the next book in the “Foundation Series”, Resolute.
This review is based on a free electronic copy of this book provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Avenged - A Review

A Review

Avenged, the third book, and I hope not the last, in the “Pacific Coast Justice Series” by former cop Janice Cantore.  This procedural police story, fits well with the previous two books in the series as they follow the career and relationships of Carly Edwards.  

As companions of a man previously arrested for the murder of another member of the La Playas police force seek to undermine his prosecution and to destroy the reputations and the lives of those who made the arrest, Carly Edwards is also reaching out to those who have come into the criminal justice system and, yet, are ready to become active members of the La Playas community.   Being involved in both these events will threaten the life, the life of her family, and the life of her friends.  

It was a book that I did not want to put down and when I did, I could not wait to get back into the story the next day.  

Along with the major plot described above, Carly is also faced with a major career decision when she is invited to be part of a major federal task force under the umbrella of Homeland Security.  Her response to the request could easily lead to additional stories in the series.  I am afraid that it will not, but I am hopeful.

The book has additional value when one looks at the list of discussion questions provided at the end of the book.  The questions are useful for individual or group use as one reflects on the lives and events described by the author.  The question allow the reader to grasp some of the spiritual truths that the story reflects in the course of its telling.
This review is based on a free electronic copy of this book provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Just Like Jesus - A Review

Just Like Jesus
Max Lucado

A Comparative Review

Max Lucado has two books with this same title.  The first is a typical Max Lucado book - a readable book drawing us to be to be followers of Jesus.  The second takes much of the same material and rewrites it for use as a 30 day devotional.  Though much of the same material exists in both volumes, they are not word for word duplicates.  On the other hand, if the reader’s interest is in reading a Max Lucado book, only one of these books needs to be chosen.  It might be useful for a small group or church to offer both books, allowing each participant to choose the format most comfortable for each individual.

The books allow the reader to examine what it means to be a follower of Jesus - and, like most of Lucado’s books, is very practical and down to earth.  Conservative and biblical, the book, like most of Lucado’s work, is full of modern stories, anecdotes, and parables.  It is the stories, anecdotes, and parables, that make both books so inviting to the reader.  The stories are set amidst scripture - both presented as stories and as truths that will define our faith.  

Having worked through both books, I preferred the devotional format - but that is really a result of who I am rather than on one book being better than the other.  Just Like Jesus will allow us to examine our lives - whether as a monograph or as a daily devotional.  
This review is based on free electronic copies of these books provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.  

Reasons For Belief - A Review

I first met Norman Geisler in April 1974 when I entered my first seminary course at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  The course was “Introduction to Apologetics”.  Reasons For Belief covers much of the same material in that course; though in  a much more readable format.

Geisler’s latest book is both valuable and readable.  It serves as a valuable resource to both the lay reader and the ministerial professional.  The book addresses “10 Essential” issues:

  1. Why Are  You a Christian?
  2. Real Truth Does Not Exist.  ‘Truth’ is just truth to you.
  3. God does not exist (Part 1)
  4. God does not exist (Part 2)
  5. If God exists, He isn’t necessarily the God of the Bible
  6. Miracles don’t happen
  7. The New Testament’s many errors make it unreliable.  It’s more like a collection of myths and legends
  8. Is Jesus God? (Part 1)
  9. Is Jesus God? (Part 2)
  10. Jesus did not rise from the dead
  11. The Bible isn’t the only true religious book
  12. Christianity is too narrow.  There are many ways to God besides Jesus
  13. What does the evidence mean for me?

A number of factors give this book significant value.  The authors knowledge of the field is first - he has spent more than 40 years developing the material.  The book, being primarily a monograph, also include a variety of charts and diagrams that help the reader understand the Geisler’s message.  Finally, the final chapter makes this text stand out - in that it address both the academic questions listed above, but also assisting the reader in applying it to his or her own life.  

Though read for the purpose of writing this review, the book was well worth the time I spent reading it over the last two weeks.  It comes with a strong recommendation.
This review is based on a free copy of this book provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

In the Matter of Nikola Tesla - A Review

A Review

Anthony Flacco’s newest title is an excellent example of historical fiction.  The blend of history and fiction draws the reader into a relationship with the central character that leaves that reader wanting more.  I was left hurting for Tesla - not only for the fictional environment built by the author, but for the historical setting in which Tesla found himself.  

Tesla’s ongoing romance with Karina serves to drive his creative and inventive juices.  Her relationship also helps define the Tesla’s mental condition throughout his most productive years.  

The historical figures that surround Tesla add realism to the plot; while, at the same time, realizing that the interactions that Tesla is said to have with Thomas A. Edison, J. P.  Morgan, George Westinghouse, and Samuel Clemens may be less than factual.  While Morgan and Westinghouse live up to their robber baron status; Clemens, Karina, and George Scherff Sr., remained friends and associates for years after Tesla was forced into poverty by those who feared that Tesla’s discoveries would upset their respective financial apple carts.

The book brought tears at times and forced me to search for the real history surround Tesla’s life and inventions.  Thankfully, Flacco includes a postlude that references some of the most important words discussing the historical and factual events that define Tesla’s life.  

Tesla’s inventions provide much of the technology that we take for granted today - the availability of relatively cheap power for our homes and for industry.  Sadly, there were hints that Tesla had developed even cheaper ways to deliver electrical power to our homes - inventions which were hidden from the public unless they undermine the power industry that had developed around Tesla’s earlier inventions.  If Flacco’s imagination is right, those inventions still exist - in the vaults of George Westinghouse and his corporate headquarters and in the hands of George Scherff’s son.  Perhaps ....
This review is based on a free electronic copy of this book provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.