Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Quick-Read Bible - A Review


The Quick-Read Bible


Janice Emmerson

A Review

The introduction begins by quoting the oft-stated notion, “All of Scripture is inspired, but some parts are more inspiring than others.” If the author’s goal in putting this book together was to make the Bible more inspiring - she has failed. In fact the most inspiring parts of Scripture are sometimes lost in translation. To give one example, the book of Philippians, including the wonderful hymn found in Philippians 2:1-11, is summed up in two paragraphs. It seems like something is lacking.

But that is not the whole story. This book does have a place in the home, church, or seminary library - much of the scripture is written as if it might be for a children’s Bible without the illustrations. Thus, it would make a great book for parents to read to their children as they get ready for bed. It would also make a great introduction for the new believer who has had zero to little introduction to the Bible. This Bible would also make a good introduction for new readers (i.e. someone who is learning English or learning to read for the first time).

The other role this book could have in the church would be in seminary. Fifty years ago, as I first entered seminary, it was suggested that students who had not been brought up in the church read a children’s Bible to become familiar with the Biblical story in a broad sweep. This Bible summary might easily be required reading for every first semester seminary student.

Though the book may miss its initial goal, it definitely has a role to play in the church for years to come. I easily give it 4-stars.
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.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

The Price of Valor - A Review


The Price of Valor

Susan May Warren

A Review

The story gets interesting as Hamilton Jones arrives in a small town in Sicily. In the distance can be seen one of the world’s more active volcanoes, Mt. Etna. It had been quiet for the last couple of years - that day was not going to be one of them. In the midst of an erupting volcano, Hamilton (aka Ham) would need to find his wife and discover where she had been for the last 10 years. Her story was that she was deep undercover with the CIA - but was she working for or against the American government. The lives of Ham, his wife, their friends, and the newly elected President, would depend on the answer.

Susan May Warren has done a marvelous job of combining the thrills of a natural disaster, the excitement of working a CIA op, the dangers of protecting the President, and following the progress of two romances about to go south. Along with this, she has woven the wonderful love of Jesus as He impacts the lives of people’s lives.

The book could easily find a place on the shelf of the church library; I would like to see it on the public library shelf as well - though some public librarians would disagree. Any reader looking for an international thriller that moves from both rural and urban Minnesota to Sicily to Washington DC would find the book satisfying. Though no hint was given, more books with this set of characters would be welcome.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinion are mine alone.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Murder at the Village Fete - A Review


Murder at the
Village Fete

Catherine Coles

Definition of “Fete”:

1: festival 2 a: lavish, often outdoor, entertainment 2 b: large elaborate party

Two things made this year's fete unique. First, it was the first year that Tommie and Evelyn Christie would be hosting it as the newly named Lord and Lady Northmoor. It was also the first year in which a dead body found near the stream running behind Hessleham Hall brought a quick end to the fete. And there was “no doubt that Robert Billingham, the Member of Parliament for Northmore & East, was most assuredly dead.”

Robert Billingham was one of four men to receive letters threatening to reveal details of a crime that any one of them could have committed, but all had been cleared of months earlier. The four men had also been invited to Hessleham Hall to attend the day’s celebration and now one of them was dead.

As somebody recently said, the murder rate in small villages found in the UK was far larger than in many major cities around the world. The village located near Hessleham Hall was no different.

As the publisher notes, the tale is a wonderful blend of Murder, She Wrote and Downton Abbey. It is the similarity to the former that gives the book some life; and its similarity to the latter that left this reader feeling that he was sometimes slogging through a giant mud patch - but sometimes even playing in the mud patch can be a worthwhile experience. Such was this book.
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, December 14, 2020

A Murder Between The Pages - A Review


A Murder
The Pages

by Amy Lillard

“This is going to be marvelous fun,”
Camille said
Friday night just after six o’clock.

A small town (Sugar Springs, Mississippi), a small bookstore (Books and More), a Friday afternoon Book Club. And two murders - one fifty years old, the other, maybe, five minutes old. Few were surprised when the three septuagenarian members of the Book Club chose to pursue those responsible for the deaths.

There were too many suspects and too many scenarios - and Arlo, co-owner of the Books and More bookstore, would need to buffer the Book Club’s ambitious search for results.

Having spent several years working with seniors, the book was a fun read - with believable characters, if not always believable situations; but what do you expect from a 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.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Simply HTML5 - A Review


Simply HTML5:
How To Visual Guide 


Simply HTML5 is simple as in survey not as in easy. The book covers most of the features and tags of HTML5 - not in-depth but by giving a starting point for self-learners or as a quick reference for experienced users. Occasionally the author assumes that an illustration adequately explains the meaning of a tag or attribute.  

For example, he gives no clear meaning of the tag <p dir=”ltr”> - leaving the reader to see the examples and trying out examples in their own code to understand what it controls and accomplishes. The author says that dir specifies the direction of the text, though clearly it does not if the language used is English. 

Similarly, he ends a brief discussion on “Boolean Attributes” by saying, “I think you get the point of what is a valid and not a valid boolean attribute from the above example.”

The book does not teach the use of CSS or JS, but it does include a chapter on weaving each into the development of a web page using HTML5. I found it interesting that examples were provided for a number of browsers (Firefox was the most common example, throughout the book), but Chrome's use on a PC was omitted.

The book may be useful as an ancillary text for a course, but not as the main text - no problem sets or programming tasks are given for students.
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.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Open For Murder - A Review


Open For Murder

Mary Angela

The culprit in this cozy mystery was as elusive as George the cat. Set in the heart of Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota, home of the Homestake Mine. Homestake was a gold mine converted at the beginning of the 21st century into a major physics research center. It was also home to Spirit Canyon Lodge, recently inherited by Beth Everett and now reopened as an inn located on the edge of Spirit Canyon.

The inn was mostly rented out this weekend for a small sorority’s 10-year reunion. However, Enid Barrett, the only real competitor to Beth’s lodge, also stopped in for a one night visit. Her goal was to put Spirit Canyon Lodge out of business. It did not go well - she was found dead the next morning.

The suspects included the guests and employees of the lodge, but the local sheriff decided Beth Barrett was guilty early in the process. Beth certainly could have pulled it off - she had means, motive, and opportunity. It now fell to Beth’s friends to stumble (literally) onto the killer.

The book included enough historic, geographic, and biographic details to warrant several Google searches for this reader - a trait that improves the quality of a cozy mystery very quickly. This reader’s only real concern was the small hint of a paranormal presence - though not a major part of the story, it was an unnecessary distraction from the rest of the book. I will give the book 4-½ stars out of a possible five.
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, December 1, 2020

The Light Ages - A Review


The Light Ages


Seb Falk

The author makes clear that the Middle Ages or Dark Ages were not nearly as devoid of scientific thinking as common knowledge would have us think. Each chapter tackles two or three threads of science. This is done by exploring the life of a typical (though highly educated) monk living at St. Albans Abby, north of London.

The only problem is that some chapters cover too much material. For example, the first chapter explores the making of the modern calendar and astronomy’s influence on agriculture of the era. The second chapter approaches the development of timekeeping and its influence on agriculture. I found the discussion of the understanding of 24 equal hours of the day from the earlier practice of dividing the time between sunrise and sunset into twelve hours, and the time between sunset and sunrise into twelve hours. The early practice meant twelve shorter daylight hours during the winter season and twelve longer daylight hours during the summer season. Because the church played such a major role in the life of the Middle Ages, it was important to understand the church’s role in promoting new scientific knowledge and in hindering its growth at times.

I found the book interesting, but it sometimes felt as if the author was blending too many topics in each chapter. As this reader progressed through the book, it became obvious that seven chapters of the book could naturally be presented in smaller units. This might make the book more accessible to the casual reader. This reader would give the book four out of five stars.
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.