Thursday, February 28, 2019

Wiersbe Study Bible - A Review

The Wiersbe Study Bible

general editor
Warren Wiersbe

Thomas Nelson has again added a nice study Bible to its list of publications.

To be fair, Warren Wiersbe has long been one of my favorite speakers and writers. Shortly after beginning my journey as a believer, I began to listen to Warren Wiersbe on the radio as he taught in his “Back to the Bible” program. As I began personal Bible study, I would purchase the “BE” book that paralleled my current study. I still consult these works (albeit, electronic versions) as I do personal study, or prepare sermons or Bible studies for small groups even today.

The Wiersbe Study Bible is actually the second study Bible published with Warren Wiersbe's name attached to it. In 2009 The Transformation Study Bible was originally made available. At the time of its publication, it was said to contain the full text of Wiersbe's “Be ....” series of Bible commentaries. Though I can find no clear statement of how this new book compares to either the commentary series or the earlier study Bible, there does appear to be considerable overlap. Here are two quotes. The first is from the notes found in The Wiersbe Study Bible. The second from Wiersbe’s “Be Worshipful”s commentary on Psalm 28:

This passage was selected randomly (i.e. I just opened the Bible), yet the two passages have a great many similarities. Compare the highlighted text from the “BE ...” commentary to the notes found in the Bible text above.

The notes are copious and informative - I was hard-pressed to find a page with no notes. I found one, buried deep in the pages of the book of Numbers; though the opposite page still had its own notes. Notes on most pages consist of cross-references and textual notes. The textual notes normally consist of two or three sentences with background material or application suggestions for the text. Also included are “CATALYST” notes designed to help the reader dig deeper into the text by looking at broader themes and character studies.

The other concern I have with this current study Bible is the “Index of Preaching Outlines” placed at the rear of the book. It does not seem to index anything in this Study Bible, per se. Rather it appears to be a list of chapter titles from Wiersbe's “BE ...” Bible commentaries, though no reference is made to these volumes in the current volume.

There is a lot of material in this study Bible, but much of it seems to duplicate what Wiersbe has written elsewhere. If the reader does not have access to these other resources, then this volume is of immense value; if the material is available either in paper or electronic format, this new edition of the Bible may be of lesser value.
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, February 26, 2019

Staging Is Murder - A Review

Staging Is Murder

Grace Topping

A new book by a new author always leaves the reader wondering what is coming. Grace Topping and Henery Books have not disappointed.

My first thought, as I picked up this book, was that I was about to read another theater or movie themed book. WRONG!! Laura Bishop is not into the stage as much as she is into real estate - her job is preparing a house to sell, regardless of the shape she finds it in when first enters its doors. This theme is carried throughout the book as each chapter is prefaced with a brief one two sentence hint on the techniques anyone can use to stage their home.

The mystery really begins when Victoria Denton comes tumbling down the laundry chute at Laura Bishop’s feet. The police are convinced that Tyrone Webster (Laura’s helper/assistant) is guilty and quickly arrest him and proceed to build their case. Laura is not quite so sure; and, like any great amateur detective, begins to interview those involved - friends, neighbors, and suspects.

The result is a cozy mystery that will keep the reader captivated and engrossed as he and she moves through the book. This reader will be looking for more from Grace Topping and Laura Bishop. Easily, a five-star cozy mystery.

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, February 12, 2019

Tell Her No Lies - A Review

Who does Nina Fischer trust? Her dad? Nope, he left before she was born. Her mom? No, she is an alcoholic with a history of lying. As an adult child of an alcoholic, she had learned her lesson well - you can’t trust anyone. And with the murder of her step father, the question becomes even more confusing.

Kelly Irwin has written a new romantic thriller that held this reader's attention from beginning to end - broken people are not all bad people, some are, but not all. Kelly would learn that as she sought answers to her step father’s death. At times more questions would arise than answers, but slowly, surely, Nina would find most of the answers and the God, that she needed; but some questions would not be answered - or would take even more time.

Though most of the book focuses on the homeless community, brokenness is found in all walks of life. Some people come out of it better people, others find themselves even more broken, and others are still seeking to find their way out of the hole they have built for themselves.

My biggest disappointment with the book is that there is clear path to a sequel - there is room for more character development as relationships continue to be built and cemented. Short of that, this book represents one of the best faith based books of the genre that I have read. In spite of this flaw, it is easy to give the book 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 my own.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Oxford Illustrated History of the World - A Review

Oxford Illustrated History
Of The World

Felipe Fernandez Armesto

I originally chose to review this book because it looked like an easy read and a coffee-table book. I was wrong on both counts.

Most “illustrated” books that cross my desk are picture (not children’s) books with notes accompanying the pictures. This book is a history book with a few pictures, drawings, and charts, provided to support the historical narrative. Much of the narrative focus on the when, who, what, and why, of the events that define human history. Some events are well-defined (i.e. the use of individual lives to illustrate larger points); most are less so (i.e. the transition of early man following the last ice age) as we follow the movement of civilizations through history. Regardless, the writer and his contributors have created an interesting book with a compelling story.

This review is not written by an historian. His brief knowledge of history is derived from a 3-semester sequence of undergraduate world civilization completed 45+ years ago and 3-quarter sequence of graduate level Biblical and church history completed 40+ years ago. As such, it cannot be a critical review, but is an educated reader’s assessment of the book.

The book is written for an intelligent audience with an appreciation for history. It is not for the light of heart, but will be of interest to both the scholar and the lay reader. This reader intended to have a general overview before writing the review, but he quickly became interested in the material and now intends to complete the entire book with a more detailed review to follow.

The illustrations are mostly indicative of the culture being discussed — some are modern drawings attempting to recreate historical places and events, most are from the era being illustrated in the text. Most images are in color and well-defined. The writing is clear, to the point, and easy to follow. My only complaint is the lack of standard list of abbreviations used in the book. Though most of the abbreviations used are defined in the book, often times a significant number of pages separate the definition given in the text and their next use by the writer. This required unneeded time to flip pages to locate the original definition, a table of definitions would reduce the amount of time wasted on finding definitions. Since most abbreviations have several real-life meanings, a Google search is not helpful

The book has a place in most public libraries and undergraduate college libraries. Some graduate libraries will also want to include it in their collections. The book may also serve as a suitable text for some undergraduate world history/civilization courses — depending on the course outline and purpose. It could also find a home in many personal libraries.
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, February 5, 2019

Caught Up In It - A Review

Caught Up In It

David Burnsworth

Given Henery Press’s reputation for cozy mysteries, I was disappointed in this offering. The story is considerably more hard-boiled than most of the books published with this imprint - incorporating significantly more drinking, smoking and vaping, and violence. The story, moving from Asia to South Carolina to Las Vegas to Los Angeles, did hold my interest; but, at the same time, it was not my cup of tea. 

I suspect there would many that would find Blu Carraway’s lifestyle and friends to be interesting, so I need to be careful. A movie based upon the book, unless carefully edited, would quickly acquire a “R” rating. As I tend to avoid “R” rated movies, I should have avoided this book. Sadly, I did not.
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.