Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Persian Gamble - A Review

The Persian Gamble

Joel Rosenberg

I have enjoyed the three books I have read, The Persian Gamble being the latest. Markus Ryker is again the star protagonist in this international thriller that moves between Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Washington DC, along with some minor players. The book is an immediate successor to Rosenberg’s previous novel, The Kremlin Conspiracy, which concludes with Marcus and two conspirators leaving a small private jet over Northeastern Russia with unopened parachutes. And that is where we find Marcus and the others as this newest book opens. The author uses the first third of the book enough of the previous history to help the current reader find his place in the current story.

The middle third of the book describes a gripping and intriguing novel of espionage, tracking from the various countries mentioned earlier. The last part of the book focus on the attempt to capture the nuclear weapons purchased secretly and being transported for installation into a set of fully capable missiles aimed at western capitals around the world. A movie based on this third part of the book would surely be rated R — not suitable for children under the age of 18 - because of the level of violence.

The author does a good job of weaving Marcus’ faith into the story — both as it relates to himself and how it relates to those around him. It is not a simple faith, but it is real (well, as real as it can be in a novel).

For fans of Tom Clancy and Nick Thacker, Joel Rosenberg’s The Persian Gamble will be satisfying. Church libraries may or may not want to add this book to their collection — depending on their willingness include the violence found in the last third of the book on their shelves. As a pastor, I would be bothered; but I know several readers who would be less bothered than I.
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.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Killalot - A Review

Core Christianity cover.jpg

Ivy Meadows is in trouble again. She was there, in the jousting arena, she had seen Angus get knocked off his horse by the competitor, one of Ivy’s best friends. And the police determined that it was murder. But Riley could not have done it.

While working to clear Riley, Ivy finds herself wrapped up in the development of a new off, off Broadway musical involving a mash-up of Camelot and JFK’s years in the oval office. A development that will nearly ruin the relationship with her long-time boy friend.

Killalot is not the best cozy mystery I have read, but it was well-done. Moving between three roles (Olive Ziegwart, the detective; Ivy Meadows, the actor; and Olive-y, the sister and friend of Cody) keeps the protagonist as she seeks to discover who is really responsible for Agnus and two others’ deaths -- before she loses her own life.

The reader looking for a good spring or summer book will not go wrong the Killalot.
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, November 20, 2018

The Bark of the Town - A Review

The Bark of the Town
Stella St. Claire

Stella St. Claire is a new author for this reader. The booked was picked up for review by the luck of the draw — and it was good luck.

As I started with the Prologue, I became concerned that I had made a poor choice for a relaxing cozy mystery. It appeared that I had picked up a darker book than I usually enjoy. I soon learned, however, that, except for the Prologue, the book had everything that might draw one to a new cozy mystery.

Willow Wells would soon find herself in the midst of a double mystery that seemed to put all the blame onto her sister, Wednesday. Because the two sisters’ father was the chief of police, he was quickly removed from the case. And the detective who was assigned to the case wanted a quick resolution by arresting Wednesday at the first opportunity. The evidence was there for a quick resolution — Wednesday was found at the scene of both crimes, she had each of the victims’ blood on her hands, and she had a motive. Willow would follow the evidence being ignored by the detective.

My only disappointment in the book was that the dogs were not the detectives — but only served as Willow Wells’ occupational interests. Regardless, the book was well-written and enjoyed. Most cozy mystery writers would find the book an enjoyable weekend of reading.
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, November 13, 2018

Holy Bible: Filament Edition - A Review

Holy Bible:
Filament Edition

New Living Translation

WOW ... Wow ... wow ...

Tyndale may have just introduced the next generation Study Bible. By combining a well-known paper translation (which must be purchased) with notes, videos, graphics, and devotionals, supplied digitally (via a free app), the reader is introduced to the best of two worlds. Fonts in the printed version can be larger — space does not need to be consumed by the Study Bible notes. Fonts in the notes are not scalable, but they are larger than those found in many Study Bibles. The notes are helpful and thorough. It is unclear who are the individuals involved in preparing the study notes for each section. Credit is given for each devotional entry — being drawn from a variety of previously published resources. Credit is also given for some of the videos to The Bible Project, a non-profit animation studio whose mission is to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere.

Given the new format, it is difficult to compare the amount of content present to a more traditional Study Bible, but my first guess is that there is more material than would be found in other similar resources. Even if the notes are comparable to a more traditional resource, to that one must add the devotional material and the audio/visual material — the result is a generous set of resources.

A couple of concerns should be mentioned. I already mentioned that the text is not scalable — not a big problem for this reader, but it might be for some. Another issue that should be made clear up front is that audio/visual resources require that the tablet or phone being used to scan page number require that the device is connected to the Internet. Study notes and devotional material are supplied with the app. Finally, notes that one may want to incorporate into one’s personal Bible Study or into a set of digital sermon preparation notes (e.g. OneNote or Evernote) will need to be copied/typed by hand. At this point, there is no Windows version of the app. One workaround would be to mirror the phone screen onto a desktop or laptop — but until a later version of Windows 10 is released, that is not part of the default operating system.

In addition to addressing the above issues, the app might be embellished in other ways. It would be interesting to see the app integrated with publicly available websites containing public domain resources. Similarly, it might be interesting to see the app’s search tools integrated with one of a major Bible Software programs (e.g. WordSearch or LOGOS). The product could also be enhanced by introducing material found in other Study Bibles which are sourced using The Living Translation.

This new approach to Bible Study will find a home in the hands of any serious Bible Student — college student, seminary student, layman, or pastor. I hope that Christian Bookstore can make a sample version along with a tablet available for customers to try. Once a user has had the opportunity to experience this new Study Bible, it should easily sell itself.

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.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Hidden Peril - A Review

Hidden Peril

Irene Hannon
A Review

Beginning with three murders, one in Syria and two in St. Louis, MO, Irene Hannon’s most recent thriller takes Kristin Dane, the owner of WorldCraft, a sustainable craft store, and FBI Special Agent Luke Carter, into the midst of an ISIS terror cell operating on their very doorsteps. The crimes are personal and the closer they come to the discovering the center of the cell, the more danger the key players will find around them.

The excitement does not end until the reader hits the “Epilogue”. The Epilogue does tie up the loose ends for the story, but it does so sluggishly and the reader quickly wishes it were over. Thankfully, it is no longer than most of the book’s chapters and does not detract from the body of the work. It might have made a more satisfying conclusion if the Epilogue had been wrapped into the “Teaser” included for the author’s next book in the series which begins with “Chaos …” Though coming from a Christian publisher, the book is light on faith; but for those for whom faith is an issue, there is little that will offend. Made into a movie, the story as presented by the author would be easily rated PG-13. This reader found the story well-done and a rewarding read.

This book will make great holiday reading for fans of the author, fans of light romantic thrillers, and fans of FBI or police procedurals.
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, November 6, 2018

Not A Creature Was Stirring - A Review

A Review

Henery Press continues to produce some of the best cozy mysteries on the market - Christina Freeburn’s newest book, the first in a new series, is no exception.

Merry Christmas (yep, that is her name) arrives at the first of the season’s craft sales in Morgantown, West Virginia, with an awful smell in her new (though used) RV. And she is the first, and most likely suspect, in the murder of her ex-husband who is the source of the rancid smell.

With the help of Ebenezer, Merry’s pet guinea pig, she will have to survive the obnoxious detective and the various attempts to sabotage her work as a Etsy dealer, in order to discover the actual culprit.

The book kept moving forward at a satisfying pace, held this reader’s attention and kept him returning for more. The possible suspects grows and keeps the reader guessing and gathering clues as the story progresses. The book should remain satisfying to most cozy mystery readers. The book will make a great Christmas read - except its publication is not expected till after the new year (January 2019). Perhaps a January purchase in preparation for a Christmas 2019 gift.
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, November 2, 2018

Ancient-Modern Bible (NKJV) - A Review


Thomas Nelson Bibles

A Review

This Bible is a great concept and probably needed by the church, but its design leaves something to be desired.

Designed with a new “Comfort Print” font that is supposed to be easier to read, the compilation of comments from authors writing across the centuries. Opening to a random page in Isaiah (Isaiah 54-56), I see quotes from Augustine, Billy Graham, and John Calvin. The quotes are interesting and applicable to the life of the Christian — both at the time they were originally written and in the modern context of this Bible. Also included are a number of essays by well-known church leaders. Setting between the book of Isaiah and Jeremiah is an essay by H. Richard Niebuhr entitled: “Connecting Christ and Culture”. This Bible concludes with a set of seven “Supplemental Articles” on a number of broader topics: Creation, Meditation, Church, Trinity, etc.

Though borrowing from a great deal of source material, the notes and essays are not well-cited. A bibliography is included in the end notes (following the “Supplemental Articles”), but the entries are not tied directly to the notes included in the margins of the Bible; thus adding a layer of complexity to the researcher or pastor wanting to verify the source material. Though many resources are used, it is unclear as to how varied they are. Only on reference from the Wesley’s is cited and there is no way to follow that citation back to see where, how, or how often it is used.

A bigger problem than the poor use of citations is the design of the Bible. Though using a new font, this font is so small it makes both the Bible text and the notes difficult to read. There is plenty of white space on most pages — a larger font could easily have been used — better still would be to have the notes available as supplements on the Internet for registered users of the Bible. The pages are thin, occasionally making page turning more cumbersome than necessary.

Assuming plenty of light, nimble fingers, and good eyes, this Bible has a place on most pastor’s desk. Laymen may find it of use or interest as well.
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.