Monday, July 30, 2018

Hope Never Dies - A Review

Hope Never Dies


Andrew Shaffer

A Review

Barack Obama and Joe Biden may have retired from their most famous positions. However, if Andrew Shaffer’s story is to be believed, this famous pair remain active in the Washington DC area, not as politicians, but as private investigators.

Biden’s favorite Amtrak Conductor has died in a tragic accident. The police are content with calling it an accident; Biden is less convinced.

Obama and Biden’s investigation will take them from Amtrak stations to Wilmington, DE, to the somewhat hidden hangout of the Marauders outlaw bike gang. With the assistance of a Secret Service Agent assigned to protect Obama and an undercover DEA Agent, the team follows the clues to discover the truth.

Shaffer’s story is as inviting as it is exciting. The story has the feel of historical fiction, yet is written in the contemporary era — well-done.

Shaffer’s Obama says he is done with serving as a PI, but this reader hopes that Shaffer and Obama will change their minds — allowing Biden and Obama to again team up and work together to solve a crime that the police have ignored or have chosen to pursue the wrong suspect; together, Biden and Obama will choose to make justice right again.

For the characters, the plot, and the setting, it is easy to make this a 5-star review.
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.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

999 Super Fun, Head-Scratching, Brain-Boosting Bible Trivia Questions for Kids - A Review

999 Super Fun,
Head-Scratching, Brain-Boosting
Bible Trivia Questions for Kids


Jodi and Lilly Simmons

with JoAnne Simmons

A Review

The author has provided a fun set of 998 (999?) trivia questions divided into 64 sections covering the people, events, and important topics found throughout the scriptures. The attached images give a brief look at the type of questions and the suggested answers.

The answer key is attached as an appendix to the entire book; a bookmark, whether using a paper copy of the book or an e-book, will make finding it easier for the reader. The major flaw in the book's design is the missing scripture index. Questions covering specific scriptures are generally presented in order (throughout the book), but questions that focus on topics seem to appear in a somewhat random order. A scripture index would help the reader find questions on specific verses of interest.

Owning a small collection of Bible trivia books, this book will make a nice addition to that collection. It would also belong in the family library of those trying to become more familiar with the Bible. Similar comments could be said for the church library making it available to both parents and Sunday School teachers.

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.  

Murder In the Oval Library - A Review

Murder In the Oval Library


C. M. Gleason

A Review

The year is 1861; Lincoln has been inaugurated, and the South has started to succeed; the country is on the brink of a civil war. Oh, and a body is found in the Oval Office of the Whitehouse.

Abraham Lincoln assigns Adam Speed Quinn the task of digging for the truth. Sophie Gates, an independent reporter writing for the New York Times, appoints herself as his assistant. Together they will need to put together the pieces of a puzzle that will only become more complicated once Washington DC is invaded by the Rebels from the South.

The story was a fun read and held this reader’s attention for the duration of the book. Well worth my time.

A “Note From The Author” does a good job of helping to connect the story to the historical events in the days immediately following the inauguration. What was disappointing was that events discussed in the book could not be verified through Google, etc. As I have said in earlier reviews, the ability to follow up with a bit of independent research is what makes an historical novel particularly interesting. The brief essay at the end ties the book to some of that history, but it also leaves some questions unanswered.

Having said that, I have ordered an earlier title by the same author written with the same characters and similar sitting. I do not expect to be disappointed.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Unwrapping The Bible - A Review

A Review

Every so often a book comes out that is designed to allow the reader to do theology rather than to learn theology. The book includes guides, tools, and scriptures, that will allow the reader to discover his theology without being spoon-fed answers by the book's author. My favorite book was Decide for Yourself by Gordon R. Lewis (1970) and republished as late as 2012. In 1916 Michael Horton wrote Core Christianity along the same lines. David R. Veerman makes his own contribution to books helping the reader come to his or her own conclusions – and he does a satisfying job of accomplishing this task.

The book is divided into 35 “sessions” grouped into seven equal subheadings:

  1. Doctrine of God
  2. Doctrine of Humanity
  3. Doctrine of Revelation
  4. Doctrine of Christ
  5. Doctrine of Salvation
  6. Doctrine of Sanctification
  7. Doctrine of the Church

Each session is subdivided into three sections. Look introduces us to the subject under discussion, both by allowing the reader reflect on what he or she already knows about the topic and to prepare the reader for future study. Listen takes the reader into the Bible text – sometimes leading to a deep study of the subject and at other times proving a set of texts which allow the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. Live focuses on the WHY of the theological lessons – what does it mean to the believer as they live their lives.

The book is Reformed/Calvinistic in its underlying theology. Quoting from the book, “Preservation (or Perseverance) simply means that salvation depends on God and not on any human effort. Believers can’t lose it. The future is guaranteed” (Italics are in the original text). No mention is made of the Wesleyan positions of Christian Holiness or Entire Sanctification. For most readers the greatest flaws will be the lack of an index to the individual topics covered and the lack of suggested references for future studies or additional information. A 400+ page theology book without these tools is hurting.

For many, this book would serve as a good introduction to theology. For those topics it covers (except for the two mentioned above), it does a good job of covering the major topics. It would serve as an excellent text for a one semester college level theology course. The book is not quite thorough enough for use in a multiple semester college or seminary sequence. For the lay person seeking to study theology, it would serve as a good foundation – though suggestions for future study would make this a more helpful work.

This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.  

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Dead Drift - A Review

Dead Drift


Dani Pettrey

A Review

This is the fourth and final (?) book in a series begun in 2016. I have enjoyed each as I read them. The stories built on each other for the most part — though it would not be too difficult to jump in midway and pick up with the story with any one book.

This book brings to a conclusion two stories that have flowed through the entire series — the murder of Griffin’s sister and ten other young women across the southern USA and tracing and dealing with the nemesis that kept Luke away from his one true love for the last seven years. A fitting, if unwanted, conclusion, to a well-written series. My only wish would be to see the characters grow their PI business and families in coming books. Alas, this is fiction, and like real life, a story does not always have a “happily ever after” ending.

The author has promised more in her new series “Coastal Guardians” — but with new characters and problems. I, for one, will be looking for this new series in the coming months.
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.  

Killer Thriller - A Review

Killer Thriller


Lee Goldberg

A Review

I was introduced to Lee Goldberg’s writing through his collection of books featuring the mentally ill, but superb, detective, Adrian Monk. This book is not Monk. It is grittier, more explicit, and more action-packed.

Ian Ludlow is a fiction writer whose imagination is clever enough that it parallels reality — parallels so close that governments, in this case, the Chinese, are out to stop the leaks that are revealing their secret plans to take over the United States government.

The action moves from Los Angeles to Hong Kong to France. Ian has no idea that the plot of his latest (and yet unpublished) novel reveal plans that are already in motion to control the American Presidency. Ian, his CIA sidekick, Margo, and the fictional star of Ian’s books, Slacker, to save both the President and the American government.

The book held this reader’s attention from beginning to end – whether in LA, Hong Kong, or Paris. It required numerous dips into Wikipedia to check maps, historical references, and miscellaneous facts — a sign of a fun book for this reader.

My only concern was the extra grittiness and explicit speech and behavior recorded by the author. Because of this added touch, I am awarding the book 4-1/2 stars rather than the five I might expect to give a book of this caliber. The average reader, if not offended by the explicit and gritty text, will enjoy this book. It should be a welcome addition to the local libraries' bookshelf.
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.  

Friday, July 6, 2018



A Review

Based on a translation specifically designed for children, this easily held book may be attractive to girls in the 1st through 3rd grades. The Bible is rather bare bones - with the exception of translator notes, no helps are included in the body of the book.

That is not to say that study helps are not included. Most obvious, to the younger reader, will be the 24 full-color pages scattered throughout the book. To the older reader are a number of helpful indexes:
  • A list of key verses on various topics of interest to kids
  • A brief (22 pages) Bible dictionary
  • A three-page list of “Where Do I Find It” pointing the reader to specific texts on key Bible people and themes
  • A two-page listing (along with the Bible text) of some of the important promises found in the scriptures
  • A three-page listing (along with the Bible text) of suggested memory verses
The back cover indicates that a concordance is also included; I suspect that the short lists mentioned above intended to serve as a concordance - they barely serve that purpose. Thus, this reader does wish these additions were a bit longer and included more content.

Given the minimalist approach taken by the editor in compiling this Bible, this reviewer is only giving three-stars to the final book. It would make a great gift, but not a helpful Bible for most young children.
This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Monday, July 2, 2018

George Whitfield: Evangelist for God and Empire - A Review

George Whitfield
Evangelist for God and Empire


Peter Y. Choi

A Review

Coming from a Methodist background, I have often found myself intrigued by the relationship between John Wesley and George Whitfield. Later in their friendship ...  

Although George Whitefield disagreed with John Wesley on some theological matters, he was careful not to create problems in public that could be used to hinder the preaching of the gospel. When someone asked Whitefield if he thought he would see Wesley in heaven, Whitefield replied, “I fear not, for he will be so near the eternal throne and we at such a distance, we shall hardly get sight of him.” [Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching and Preachers, W. Wiersbe, Moody Press, 1984, p. 255. Quoted in Galaxie Software. (2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press]

Though this biography touches on the relationship between the Wesleys and George Whitfield, its major focus is on Whitfield’s work of spreading the gospel in England and America and his contribution toward bringing English culture to the New World.

The work is scholarly and primarily aimed at that audience. The general reader will be less satisfied with the work, though some might be surprised. The book is readable and will be satisfying to many with an interest in English and American history or church history in general.

The author does an excellent job of preparing the reader for what is coming — both in terms of the book and in terms the book’s chapters and smaller divisions. This makes much of what follows easy to appreciate and understand.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Burdom of Proof - A Review

Burden of Proof

DiAnn Mills

A Review

DiAnn Mills has written a compelling and (mostly) believable story The books begins with FBI Special Agent April Ramos trying to talk Benson off the ledge from which he is threatening to jump. Before she can recover from that experience, a young woman thrust a baby into her hands before disappearing into a parking lot. Minutes later a man accousted April, claiming that he is the child’s father. Not knowing who to believe — she keeps the child and arrests Jason for kidnapping. Big Mistake. But would take most of the book to figure that one out.

What follows is a well-written story that twists around a variety of families — some to be trusted, some not. But of course, that is what makes for an interesting story.

The book will be appreciated by those who are fans of romantic thrillers — I did. The author did a good job showing how the faiths of both April and Jason grow as they work together to separate those who can be trusted and those who cannot be trusted. But one issue routinely presents itself in the typical romantic thriller. This pastor remains concerned about why a book from a Christian author and publisher would model a healthy romance developing in a week or two. Though the relationship grows too quickly given real people, the issues that face two people falling in love are not ignored. Given the confines of a single novel, it is the compromise that must be acknowledged.

Despite that concern, the story is fun and worth the time spent reading. The book will be well received by the church library. The elements of faith are not overwhelming; the book will also appeal to the general public. Thus, it would be worth purchasing for one's personal use or as a gift for other readers.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.