Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Witnesses - A Review


A Review

Some authors catch a readers attention. Robert Whitlow has caught mine. I try to read as many of his books as I can, though I have missed a few. Here is an author that is trained as a lawyer, has the faith of a committed Christian, and has been compared, favorably. as an author to John Grisham. And he continues to succeed at his craft.

The Witnesses is proof of that fact.

Franz Haus, as he was called by his parents. or Frank House, as his family and friends know him now, has a long history.  He joined the German army near the start of World War II. He had a good intuition that often provided solid advice to General Berg, intuition that would allow him to meet and sit with some of the highest leaders in the German army, intuition that force him to see more atrocities committed in the name of Germany than he wanted to admit - to himself or to those who knew him best.

Frank House (nee Franz Haus) deserted the German Army  through  Switzerland (where he lived out the remaining months of the war) and eventually settled in New Bern, North Carolina; but when he did, he left with a secret that others were willing to kill for. A secret that would put both his own life and the life of his grandson in danger.

As always, Robert Whitlow has managed to draw together the brokeness of life, the drama of the legal system, and the role of faith into a readable novel that will appeal to both the believer and non-believer. It gives a glimpse of how faith can and does work in the life of men and women of 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.

Jesus And Zacchaeus - A Review

Jesus And


And Jesus

Written By: Dandi Daley Mackall
Illustrated By: Lisa Manuzak

A Review

“Nifty!” - That was the word my wife used when I first showed her this unusual book. Her word is official - she is the Pre-K Sunday School teacher at church; she is the grandmother of two active preschoolers; and she is a member of the children’s bookseller team at the local Barnes and Noble. If she looks at a children’s book and says. “Nifty!”, it is nifty.

The book consists of two parallel stories (i.e. poems) telling the story from Jesus’ (who offers grace) perspective; and, after flipping the book over, it tells the story from Zacchaeus’ (who receives grace) perspective. The images are colorful and convey the story in an interesting manner for the young child or early reader.  

And though this grandpa’s word is not nearly as official, this reader does agree - this book will make a nifty addition to the home library, the church library, or the Sunday School classroom.

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, July 12, 2016

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd - A Review

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd

Thrice the Brinded Cat.jpg

Alan Bradley

A Review

It is time for the BBC to offer a new mystery series staring Flavia de Luce. It would fit right along side those they have done earlier with Miss Jane Marble and Mr. Hercules Poirot. Reading Alan Bradley’s latest work, the reader is taken back to the early 1950’s, almost seeing the story played out on the black and white TV sets of the era.    

Flavia has returned from her exile in Canada to a rather indifferent family. Her father is in the hospital, and others are at odds with her because she has inherited her mother's ancestral home where the entire family now lives. Shortly after returning home, she stumbles on a rather bizarre death scene (was this becoming a habit?) of a man she was just beginning to know. In the days to follow, as winter and Christmas set in, she will find herself two steps ahead of the police as clues accumulate. It is never clear to the reader whether the Inspector Hewitt appreciated her contributions or not - though, Flavia has no doubt as to how that question would be answered.

As this reader had not read previous works from this author, this story was not difficult to follow on its own. The only exception to this comment is perceiving the time frame for the book. Its regular mention of a war did not make it clear until somewhat later into the book, whether the reference was to the Bore Wars (ala Murdoch), WW I, or WW II. Eventually the reader can discern the time - but the uncertainty does not impact the telling of the story.  

For the reader looking for an early winter (or even a midwinter) book, Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d may well fill in one week of reading. Give me a hearty fire during a snowy week of cold, blustery weather, and one will feel right at home with Flavia, Gladys (her bike), and the family in jolly old England.
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, July 11, 2016

American Woman’s Bible - A Review

American Woman’s Bible


Dr. Richard G. Lee

A Review

I have stumbled upon other Bibles using American history as the source notes, devotional thoughts, or commentary. However, I found this edition to be of greater value that those that have crossed my path in the past.

The notes focus on the role that Christian Women have played in American history and how their lives have exemplified the role Christ, Scripture, and the church has had in preparing them for those roles. This is accomplished by including biographical sketches, quotations that have shaped others by or about American women, and a series of essays focusing on the virtues that have shaped our nation and the women who have been a part of that history.

My biggest disappointment is that the publisher chose to name only one male author of the book: Dr. Richard G. Lee. I suspect, like most Study Bibles and Devotional Bibles, the work was a collaboration of many scholars and spiritual leaders - but they are totally unnamed, either in a list of contributors or as the authors of individual pieces of writing. It would seem, to this reviewer, that if we have a Bible focused on the contributions of women to history, its contents should in some way be guided by women. I do not know where the error was made - in not giving credit for the women’s contribution or in not allowing women to contribute - but it seems that an error was made.

Having said that, this Bible edition does have value - just less than it might. The collection of biographies and quotes might help a pastor in preparation for next Sunday’s message. The devotional thoughts could easily be used by a teen or adult Sunday School teacher or Bible Study leader in preparation for next weeks lesson. My copy will sit on a night stand for my wife and I use with our personal devotions. I do expect that others will find it a blessing.
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.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Oliver Twisted - A Review

Oliver Twisted.jpg

A Review

As Ivy Meadows, the first person author says:

We’d been hired to investigate a string of thefts aboard a cruise line. Uncle Bob was pretending to be a guest— a wealthy rancher— and I was posing as one of the actors in the on-board show. That’s right, we were getting paid to cruise to Hawaii (Hawaii!), plus we’d each get a ten-thousand-dollar bonus if we found evidence that would stand up in court. Nice work if you can get it.

I have only been on one cruise in my life. And though I like Charles Dickens, I probably would not choose this cruise - what with murders, secrets, and accidents, it would not be an inviting opportunity to be at sea - even given the chance to visit Hawaii. I will continue shopping, thank you.

Now, I was not asked to review the cruise, but the book. That being the case, the book was better than the cruise. As it combined the best of a cozy mystery, a great writer (i.e. Charles Dickens), live theater, and a cruise, the reader felt drawn into the life of the writer. The only missing piece was the teamwork that should be expected from a group of PIs working in tandem. This reader felt as if the writer were the only PI on the ship - with only small mentions of her Uncle Bob and her associate Timothy. Though they were posted on the ship as a team, the reader was left feeling as if Ivy was isolated - by her choice, not by circumstances or others’ inattention to the case.

A great book for a summer read - even the reader cannot spend this summer on a cruise. Having said this, there is nothing that keeps this Ivy Meadows Mystery from being read at any time of the year.

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, July 5, 2016

Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War - A Review

Star Trek/Green Lantern:
The Spectrum War

green lantern-Star Trek.jpg


Mike Johnson
A Review
Star Trek and Green Lantern come from two different universes (television and graphic novels) – universes which in most worlds would never meet. Yet Mike Johnson has made a very nice first attempt to bring these very different worlds together.
The characters from both universes are present – from Star Trek we have the essential characters – Captain Kirk, Spock, Bones, Uhura, Chkov, and Scotty. The Green Lantern universe brings the collection of rings – both good and evil – representing the emotional spectrum of colors and the Green Lantern Corp including appearances from Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner, among others.
The story is a fun reminder of the histories of both story lines, but the new book never seems to take off and grab this reader. Having said that, the premise has promise; this reader will hope to see more sories featuring two of my favorite Sci-Fi and graphic novel characters from an earlier generation working together to protect the universe. And there are hints dropped that there may be more to come. I will continue to hope.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinion expressed are my own.