Wednesday, June 29, 2011

God's Love Letters To You by Dr. Larry Crabb

God's Love Letters To You: A 40- Day Devotional Experience by Dr. Larry Crabb, has one devetional dedicated to each of the individual books of the bible.  Each day, the reader will be greeted with a new devotional, written in a first person narative, as if God himself has written a personal letter- starting with Genesis on day one and ending with Revelation on day 40. The devotionals themselves are somewhat inspriational, yet they have little if anything, to do with the actual bible book of which they are allegedly based.  For example, the devotional titled, "Romans" apparently  spends more time addressing the fact that the book of Romans is the first of many New Testament letters of the bible, yet the text of the devotional does not discuss the themes or anything else having to do with the book of Romans. It is more of a commentary of the importance of understanding the truth of the bible's words, but it does not discuss specifically any spiritual theme or important biblical points of the particular book of Romans.  Regretably, this is a lost opportunity which could have proven to be a spring board into deeper study of the book of Romans or any other book of the bible for that matter.  In general the devotions are very short and quick.  While there is some inspiration, and quotes from notable Christians and Christian writers, there are very few actual scripture quotes.  Nevertheless, this soft cover devotional is attractively packaged, with its cover made to simulate a stamped envelope.  Hopefully, readers of this devotional will actually use this devotional as inspiration to seek out and read the bible.  As a blogger for booksneeze, I recieved a copy of this book from thomas Nelson publishers for the purpose of writing this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Complete Zoo Adventure by Mary & Gary Parker

The Complete Zoo Adventure by Mary & Gary Parker, is literally a "A field trip in a book" as marketed on the front cover.  This spiral bound, interactive full color book has color coded tab divided chapters for each animal category as well as a hands on tool kit, containing field fact cards, biome cards, field journal cards and name badges for the readers/ participants.  This book is educational as well as interactive.  This book is the perfect guid to transform any zoo trip into an educational field trip.  And for those readers who are not actually going to the real zoo, this book is the next best thing. 

At first glance this might seem just like a very good resource in animals and the zoo.  But when you actually read the text of the book and not just the full color photographs of animals, the reader will find it is actually an educational book on biblical creation.  Sadly, so many readers- and parents who read this book, will probably will look at the photos and stop there.  But the actual text of this book is even more impressive!  In the section "Before the zoo", there are "devotional" pages which give the biblical background of creation starting from Genesis.   This book provides a simple, yet very well written background on the theology of creation and sin, the garden of Eden, and the flood.  Issues of creationism vs evolutionary theories are discussed.  Furthermore, within the text of the animal sections themselves, the authors do not hesitate to include biblical based commentary.  For example, when commenting on a monkey exhibit at a zoo, they critique the fact that a diagram was depicted which implied than men evolved from apes.  This is a bold book, and the authors are not ashamed of the gosepl message and find effective ways to promote the gospel in of all places- a book about zoo animals!  As a blogger for New Leaf creations I recieved a copy of this book published by Master Books for the purpose of writing this review.  I wish this book would be available to the mass market in book stores everywhere as its message is essential.  This publishing company produces many great books that tie in science with biblical creation so that the readers get the whole picture.

The Doppleganger Chronicles: The Great Mogul Diamond by GP Taylor

As a blogger for Tyndale publishers I had the opportunity to review the 3rd book of the graphic kids' series, The Doppleganger Chronicles: The Great Mogul Diamond by G. P. Taylor. My 10 year old Rose, really likes this series, and basically read each book non stop until completeion. Although this is #3 in a trilogy, each book can be read independantly.  This new junior novel series represents the new and popular genre of graphic novels- a hybrid between a full color comic book format and text novel. The ecclectic mix of comic book style cartoon art, illustrations as well paragraphs of text make this book visially appealing as well capturing the interest of the reader. For anyone who enjoys comic books, and graphic novels- I would suggest this book- especially for those who enjoyed the first book in the series.

The Doppleganger Chronicles series, Doppleganger takes its name from a hybrid mix of the twin heros last name Dopple, and their sidekick's last name Ganger. Although marketed to appeal to ADHD/ short attention spanned readers, my ten year old- and A student who enjoys reading enjoyed this book. My five year old enjoyed listening to having this book read to him, although he found the pictures a bit spooky. The artwork is very impressive. The gothic styled artwork and cartoons are unique for a children's book, and will draw in older readers as well as younger readers. The vivid descriptive details such as when "Erik waded through the waist-high vile liquid that spewed from the roof of the vault" page 241 make this an engaging story in of itself. The mixed media of text and graphics and photographs make this a unique book that may even capture the interest of parents as well! In fact, the sophisticated language, sarcasm and irony may be appreciated more adults than by young children. The intended readership of this book is the pre-teen/ younger teenaged reader. I rate this novel five stars, not only for its unique presentation format and the unique, vivid writing style. As a blogger for Tyndale publishers I recieved this book for the purposes of writing this review. The opinions reflected are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

We eagerly await #4 in this series.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Place Called Blessing by John Trent with Annette Smith

A Place Called Blessing by John Trent with Annette Smith tells the story about a child who grew up in the foster care system, after the unexpected death of his parents.  As a young man, he had paid his entire young life for a horrendous, yet accidental death of a playmate, he caused when he was six years old playing with matches in the basement of his foster parents.    His emotional story is told in such a way that he honestly accesses the gravity of his actions without excusing it away.  He takes emotionaly responsability for his actions. The irony of the story is the fact that though the main character wanted to keep his shameful secret hidden from those around him, those he lived with and those who showed him love and kindness, those same very individuals which he learned to call his family, would have or should have, by the worlds standards, have been those most angered seeking revenge rather than to offer forgiveness.  The story almost seems unbelievable- it is difficult to comprehend how a mother can forgive someone who was responsible for the death of her child, and furthermore, to accept him into her home as if he was her own son. As a blogger for booksneeze, I recieved a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson publishers for the purpose of writing this review. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Creation and the Second Coming by Henry M. Morris

Creation and the Second Coming by Henry M. Morris is a timely book on biblical prophecy, published by Master Books.  Countless books and, documentaries and movies on prophecy have been written, especially within the past few years, in light of new economic, scientific,  atmospheric, political and environmental developements.  Morris' book, in particular, does not appear very modern in accordance with modern professional printing press techniques- with its stiff, cardboard like pages, and antiquated type- setting/ font. Nevertheless, the text itself is very biblically based with its extensive use of scripture to back up the author's assertions.  The author relates the old testament writing as well as new testament writings to modern events which are actually taking place. Political events such as those in the Mid-East, as well as religious/ spritiual trends such as the Islamic and New Age movements are considered as well.  Old testament prophecy such as that from the book of Daniel are considered in great detail.  If you can get past the bold, black font, and stiff pages, then this book is sure to shed light on biblical prophecy and how modern day events fit in.  Perhaps a more modern update and newly designed cover  for this book, might make it more appealing and professional to modern day readers. In its current form, it looks like the quality one might expect from a self publishing company or a personal computer.  As a blogger for New Leaf Bloggers I recieved a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.  The opinions expressed are my own. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

God and Steven Hawking by John C. Lennox

God and Steven Hawking- Whose Design Is It Anyway? by John C. Lennox, is 96 page apologetic work in response to Steven Hawking's well known bestselling work, "The Grand Design".  Lennox concedes that Hawking has made accessible to the laymen, his God-less theories of physics, and science to the main-stream, challenging belief in God and the bible. The implications of this atheistic view of God in society are seriously damaging to faith in God.  Because of this danger, Lennox feels the need to point out the holes and weakness in Hawking's theories as presented in the "The Grand Design".  Specifically, he is not debating about the scientific ideas presented by Hawking but about the conclusions that he comes up with- namely that God does not exist.  He feels that Hawking is in error, when he dismisses the validity of philosophy and faith in addressing crucial questions such as the purpose and meaning of life. Lennox challenges the claim that the law of gravity is the explanation for the creation and purpose of the universe and this is not a satisfactory explanation of the laws of nature and morals.  In essense, Hawking creates for himself, his own god- which is the universe, or more accurately, the multiverse.  Hawking's work, simply is unable to answer the questions as to the purpose or why the world was created. 

I believe that Lennox's ideas as presented in his book would be more accessible to the laymen in a pamphlet or tract form rather than a 96 page book.  The intended market audience of this book is obviously those who have in fact read or are actually familiar with and understand Hawking's works- which I assume is not too many.  The way Lennox's book is presented, is not neccessarily the most readable- therefore I believe a smaller booklet form or tract version with graphics and bullet points would be more effective.  This book seems more like a research paper and is not very readable to the average reader.

As a blogger for Litfuse, I recieved this book from Lion Book publishers for the purpose of writing this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Bombus the Bumblebee by Elsie Larsen

Bombus the Bumblebee by Elsie Larsen and illustrated by David & Elizabeth Haidle is a colorful illustrated story book for young children that is sure to inspire and encourage the reader.  Obviously as Christian fiction, this story upholds the idea of biblical creation as fact, from page one, with its reference to the Genesis account of creation.  Bombus, a Bumblebee created by God, must face the challange of being big, fat, noisy and uncoordinated.  He is made fun of and mentally abused by the slender, more coordinated Honeybees. Yet, God gives him the courage to be himself- as that is the way he is made.  Young children can relate to this story about bullies and self esteem and discouragment.  In the end, it celebrates the uniqueness of every living creature and how each individual is created by God for a purpose and that purpose can not be thwarted regardless of what others may say.

Also included at the end of this book are some extra features, including information about Bumblebees and activity ideas.  As a blogger for New Leaf I recieved a copy of this book published by Master Books for the purpose of writing this review.

Living Fossils By Dr. Carl Werner

Living Fossils By Dr. Carl Werner is volume 2, of the Evolution: The Grand Experient series.  This fully illustrated, full color book is a hybrid between a science textbook, and the author's personal journal. Marketed for the homeschooled market, this science book is certain to capture the interest of any child or adult interested in science, fossils and evolution.  This book does not replace a science text, as it is not all inclusive,  nevertheless it would make a  very good supplement to a science textbook in the private or even public school forum.

This science text chronicles the author's quest to prove/ disprove evolution.  It is written in the first person point of view, including some personal, yet scientifically irrelevant facts about his trips to the escavation sites and museums.  Nevertheless, the photographs speak for themselves and his personal comments and captions do not hinder the point the author is trying to communicate.  Included are a series of high quality photographs of fossils.  In most cases the photographs of the fossils are set side by side with photographs of modern day look a likes, illustrating that there are so many animals and plant life that have changed very little since the age of the dinosaurs. In other cases, the author relies on museum reconstructions/ illustrations of ancient fossils rather than actual fossils.    This book dispells the commonly health myth- or rather, the alleged conspiracy, that mammals and other modern fish/ reptiles/ plant life did not exist until recently.  One thing that I think should be changed is the physical page space dedicated to the scientists the author quoted.  I think it is sufficient to include a quote and the scientist/ date of the quote but to include a full color photo of each individual quoted is a waste of space.

Another important issue the author raises in this text is the liberty that science illustators make when drawing reconstructions of ancient bones found.  This liberty reflects the artist's and scientist's bias causing an illustration to make a fossil animal appear more or less ancient through the use of color and the artictic liscense used to exxagerate the non-bony, cartilage- type structures, colors, skins, fur, scales etc...  The author suggests that two depictions be required- one on the modern spectrum as well as an ancient depiction because in reality, the artist must use his or her imagination to complete a drawing and fill in the gaps when only bones are available. 

I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading vol 3 and 4 which the author teased the reader about in the end of the book.  As a blogger for New Leaf publishers I revieved a copy of this book published by New Leaf publishers for the purpose of writing this review.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cure For The Common Life by Max Lucado

The "common life" is analagous to the common cold.  Just as the "common cold" is boring, annoying, nagging and unwelcomed, the "common life" is unisnspired, boring and unfullfilling as well- and both seem to linger forever and are difficult to overcome. As with his many other inspirational books, Max Lucado's book, Cure For The Common Life, is sure to inspire and motivate the reader.  Specifically, this book empowers those readers who are not neccessarily deeply troubled with serious life issues, but rather addresses the common, yet ordinary issues that many readers face in the modern, first world, middle class societies.  The target audience for this book is not those facing terminal illness, financial crisis, or other serious issues, but rather those who simply feel they live an uninspired, unfullfilling life. 

Lucado draws his words from scripture, from the New Testament letters of Paul, when he states that  "The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others". page 4. He recognises that each and everyone of us has a gift regardless of whether we know it or not.  In fact, Lucado has the gift of recognising the "gift" in even the most mundane and common of circumstances and individuals.   This book is not for the hedonistic or narrcistic individual.  This book is not about harnessing one's gifts and unique qualities simply to advance financially or to advance in a career or relationship- rather the focus of finding one's special gift or purpose in life is to serve others and serve God.

Using an original yet simple formula, the reader will find the balance between using his gift for the right purpose by considering the three factors: "everyday life", "strengths" and "God's Glory" in order to find one's "sweet spot".  To consider one or only two of the factors might yield material or worldy success, but not be spiritual rewarding for God's purpose.  On the ther hand, the argument might be made, to include only one, the reader might have the right spiritual motivation, but be frustrated by his or her unsuccessful attempts at furthering the work of God and the gospel.  Basically, all three in balance are needed and systematically, Lucado goes through how to do this.  Lucado's writing is simple, and motivational, as always is the case with his books.  There are some interactive parts to the book which require the reader to actually think, plan and even journal some notes. Topics covered include the jobplace and children.  At the end of the book is a review section / study guide.  As a blogger for booksneeze, I recieved a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson publishers for the purpose of writing this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Future Blog Topics:

Who Needs To Be a Vampire to  Live Forever When You Can Have Eternal Life With Jesus

The Book of Genesis Disproves Alien Life: Belief in Alien Lifeform Implies That God is Holding Back  in the Truth of the Bible

Bible Versions- communicating God's word through archaic "biblish" vs readability

 Choose Your Translation Wisely...........

Bible Versions- Communicating God's Word
Literal or Paraphrase? Modern or Traditional?

As a blogger I have had the opportunity to review a number of bibles and bible translations. Yet even as a blogger, opportunities to review bibles are less frequent as they are immediately snatched during the night, by greedy bible hoarders, as soon as they are made available on the blogging sites at a time when most respectable  individuals with jobs and families are still sleeping. So I have lost more opportunities to review bibles.  Nevertheless, the availability of online bibles  makes it very easy to compare translations as well.   As a believer,  I read the bible because it is the word of God.  There are so many translations to choose from- ranging from the traditional and beloved King James to the modern, simplified, paraphrase such as the Message. 

Recently  I have had the opportunity to review even more bibles, namely two contrasting translations, a modern faithful translation, the NLT and a more literal NKJV. A frequently used translation by Thomas Nelson publishers, one of the publishers I blog for, is the NKJV- New King James Version, which is often used for their themed bibles.  The NKJV as well as other more literal translations- such as the NASB, NRSV and ESV tend to be overly literal to the point of being difficult to understand for many of today's readers. This is especially evident in the Psalms, and other old testament books as well as the letters in the New Testament.  At times, especially for new bible readers, this can prove to be a impediment to truly understanding God's word.  This is not a problem for seminary students of course, and proves to be useful for serious theological study.  Yet for a new reader to the bible, and to the modern readers of this generation, this is an impediment to understanding God's word.

For example, a bible marketed for new belivers titled the "New Believers Bible- Start" ironically, is available in only the literal NKJV, rather than a more user friendly version such as the NCV also by the same publisher. The NCV which also is available by the same publisher but under- marketed, would be more appropriate for a new believer or new bible reader.  Furthermore, the  Max Lucado and Jesus Calling themed devotional bibles are also available in NKJV only and not the more modern yet reliable NCV- New Century Version.  For those readers who enjoy Lucado's simple to understand books, the NKJV does a disservice- and a more user friendly version for this themed bible would be more appropriate.

 In response to the newer translations being published, there is a growing outrage among scholars and KJV loyalists.  A number of emerging church leaders and rigid individuals claim that the ESV English Standard Version,  in particular, is the 'Bible of the future'—ideal for public worship and private reading, appropriate for readers including adults, teens and  children. This puzzles me, since the ESV seems to me to be very  literal and full of archaisms, awkward language, obscure idioms, irregular word order, and a great deal of “Biblish.” Biblish is best defined as when the translator tries to reproduce the form of the Greek or Hebrew without  consideration for how people actually write or speak in the real world. The ESV, like other formal literal versions (RSV, NASB,  NKJV,  NRSV) is a good for indepth theological study for scholars,   yet chock full of biblish, and therefore  is not the best choice as a standard Bible for a church that is supposed to serve a broad representation of people. The sentence structure and word choice of these very literal translations  greatly obscures the meaning of God's word for most readers.

The more literal translations are accurate and trustworthy (the KJV not as much so as it which was written before more ancient manuscripts were discovered), and are great for theologens and scholars and seminary students- in contrast to  a paraphrase such  the Message which is far, far less literal -to the point of being comedic. As far as a  translations for those who aren't theologens,  there are   more appropriate and more readable choices available between in the mid point of the translation spectrum.   I feel pride  and elitism is an issue, and that there are some individuals in church and elsewhere who simply feel smarter and more intelligent when they carry around a NKJV, KJV or ESV.  This is nothing more than biblical snobbery or elitism.  There are many who feel the NIV, the HCSB, CSB, NLT and other more readable such translations are beneath them. Other readers might be skeptical of the reliability of some of the more modern translations. Personally, I used to feel that way until I started  comparing the texts of passages from different versions side by side and saw for myself that modern translations do not obscure or change the meaning.  In contrast, the modern translations are enlightening.  There is one exception- The Message bible is too paraphrased, intended for casual reading and not serious study.  It is however a unique paraphrase that is a good choice, however for teenaged readers. As a blogger I have had the opportunity to review more translations.  At this point I favor the NLT as it  combines the best of readability and truthfulness to the original intent of the bible's meaning.

As far as bible translations, there is a spectrum of the ease of reading of a particular translation ranging from beginner/ easy reading levels such as the message and more complex/ literal such as the King James version, and revised standard version. For example, the popular NIV- New International Version by Zondervan, and NLT New Living Translation by Tyndale are somewhere in the middle with regard to ease of reading level and undertsanding. The NKJV - New King James Version, in particular, is a bit more literal and is written in somewhat of a higher reading level. Nevertheless, this NKJV is still more readable than the ESV or KJV. For those new to the bible entirely, The NLT bible as well as NIV are examples of versions are easy to read and understand, and are very good options for those who seek to understand the meaning of the bible.

Difficult to read versions such as the Old King James - though very well written and poetic- in a Shakespearian sort of way, do a disservice to the modern or new bible reader. The antique language is difficult for many in this day to understand on their own and makes it prohibitive for many to understand the truths of the bible. Having known many readers of the KJV, who do not even understand the meaning of what they read- indicates that this is not the best translation for those who really seek to know God's word. What is the point of a bible after all if you can not even undertsand it? For those new to the bible or for those who have a difficult to read translation such as the King James Version, who wish to read the bible and actually understand it, I would suggest one of the bible versions with more modern & contemporary language. While the NKJV is relatively easy to read, it may present a challange to many modern adults- especially when trying to decipher the meaning of the New Testament letters or the Psalms.

What a treasure of information is obscured in these difficult to decipher translations! Readers struggle to read and understand, but the difficult awkward language is a stumbling block.  What really seems ironic is when the NKJV, ESV or KJV is printed as a children's bible! Imagine how many kids get those "Precious Moments" themed bibles.  They look cute with the pink or pale blue cover and the cartoon of a praying child.  Yet when you open it, it seems so unfriendly for a young reader with its microscopic text and hard to read KJV text.  When I see this, I can only wonder what child on his or her own can actually read and get anything from it. This is a great diservice to a child- when a child is presented with a bible in archaic English in a tiny text font. It is as if the word of God is locked away or closed off - inaccessible.  I feel that publishers and even parents need to take time to consider what a child, young reader or teenager will understand when being presented with the bible.  There are a large number of very good youth bibles and study bibles full of colorful graphics such as the NLT themed study bibles, and magazine style bibles in the NCV version which are sure to appeal to younger readers and new bible readers.  The NIV and HCSB also have a number study and student bibles too. 

This brief survey is in no way complete.  I simply touched upon the many translations available.  Just about every household has a bible that simply collects dust on the bookshelf.  I can imagine most of these dusty unread volumes are the KJV, New Revised Standard or some other antiquated translation.  Once again, what is the point of having a bible if it never is read? What is the point of clinging tight to one's loyalty to the King James Version if you can't even read or understand it.  Other than Christmas time, when sentimental readers long to read the Christmas passage about the birth of Jesus in vintage King James style , I doubt that any other KJV passage is as well read.

Children's bible directory- your guide

zondervan bible chart - a link to a chart of translations and how they compare

The bible pictured above- The Good News Bible was my very first bible, an easy to read bible, in an easy to read font.........for the story of how important easy to read translations are, please read  The Day That Got Away

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's Not About Me By Max Lucado

It's Not About Me - Rescue From the Life We Thought Would Make Us Happy  By Max  Lucado is among the most uplifting books that I have recently read.  In true Lucado fashion, Max writes in an animated, easy to understand style that communicates biblical truths to the reader.  His books bring bible stories and biblical truth to life in an inspirational way that speaks out to the reader.  "Catch God in a bad mood? Won't happen.  Fear exhausting his grace? A sardine will swallow the Atlantic first.  Think he's given up on you?" ..... Lucado's use of colorful language and his conversational tone, make it so that biblical truths are memorable and meaningful to the average modern reader.  You need not be a theologen, educated in an expensive seminary or college to understand Max Lucado's books.

This inspirational book will be certain to leave the reader with a lasting impression.  In  today's self centered society, without offense Max Lucado illustrates the importance of living life based on biblical principles.   After reading this book, and really meditating on the biblical truths communicated via Max Lucado, one can feel a renewed sense of embpowerment to live a selfless life style.  Max makes use of personal anecdotes as well as bible stories to illiustrate the importance of depending on  God rather than on the material things of this world.  If you are a theologen, looking for an apologetic defense on the purpose of depending on God then this book isn't for you.  But, if on the other hand you are simply looking for bible based motivation and a relief in a world that takes pride in materialism, selfish ambition and competition, then this book is perfect.  As a blogger for booksneeze, I receive books from Thomas Nelson publishers in exchange for writing an honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Strike it Rich With Pocket Change byKen Potter & Dr. Brian Allen

Strike it Rich With Pocket Change: Error Coins Bring Big Money byKen Potter & Dr. Brian Allen, published by KP publishers, is a unique coin guide for the beginning collector.  Educational and interesting to read, this book contains black and white photographs on each page. Written in simple to understand language, with relevant photos, this book will appeal to coin collectors and non collectors alike.

Unknown to most laymen, and perhaps collectors as well, collecting error coins are a subset of the coin collecting hobby.  Furthermore, a distinction is made between damadged coins and error coins.  Not only does this guidebook educate the reader about these distinctions and the types of errors to be found, photographs of the errors are included in the text.  What makes this book a truly great resource for the novice collector or coin student is the fact that it basically includes photos of every modern American coin minted in the U.S. Sufficient back ground information on coin collecting is included in this book.  For example, collecting quaterers and commemorative dollars are a common hobby for many.  In this book all the 50 States Quarters are photgraphed in a handy check list type format as well as nickels, Presidential $1 coinage, Sacagawea Dollars and America the Beautiful dollars too! Furthermore, at the end of this book is a glossary of coin collecting terms and some articles debunking common coin myths such as the popular misconception that Bicentennial coins ar e valuable.  Additional resources are included to direct the collector to additional sources of information on the web or via mail.  Membership applications for various coin collecting groups are included in the book as well.  This all inclusive book is the perfect start to jump start any new collector's coin hobby. So, if even after reading this book and looking through change doesn't yield financial resouces, at the very least, any reader who has completed this book, will have gained an education in Coin Collecting 101, a trained eye and a new appreciation for pocket change.  As a blogger for booksneeze I recieved this book from Thomas Nelson publishers for the purpuse of writing this review.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The WHOLE Bible Story by Dr. William H. Marty

The trade paperback, The WHOLE Bible Story: Everything That Happens in the Bible in Plain English by Dr. William H. Marty, is a condensed 299 page summary of all the bible.  For those familiar with the "Cliff Notes" books of the eighties, this book, which sums up the main events and stories of the bible, is written in a similar style.  This ambitious book chronologically covers the main events of the bible in a shortened summary format at the expense of leaving out the spiritual and inspired elements. Perhaps for an history student, this is a good resource. Each chapter lists the "main characters" and geographic setting for the particular biblical chapters covered. A few simple black and white maps and simple line illustrations are included throughout the text. Chapters in this guide are listed and based on the chronology of the bible, rather than specific books of the bible. 

 Keep in mind this is not a replacement for the bible.  In fact, this book really serves to perpetuate the misconception that the bible is too difficult to read and understand.  In fact, for anyone who truly wants to get anything out of reading the bible as the word of God, I'd suggest reading a study bible in a modern translation such as the NIV or NLB and using this book as a study guide along-side a traditional bible.  Basically what this book does is to reduce the bible to a history book, leaving out all the spiritual parts which could lead to salvation and focusing on the bare minimum facts and events.  Unless you are simply trying to get a foundation of the bible as a whole from the historical perspective, I believe a reader would get so much more out of reading the actual bible.  As a study guide to be read along the actual bible, this book would be a great resource.  As a blogger for Bethany House publishers I recieved this book for the purposes of writing a review and the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer

The fiction- fantasy suspense novel, The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer is based on a spiritual battle between the evil occult and goodness.  The book was interesting from the first chapter, when it was revealed that the heart-broken father  had visual contact with the ghost of his daughter.  Although not entirely biblical in scope, it is entertaining nonetheless.  The spiritual storyline was based on exisiting religious entities and concepts.  Elaborate detailed scenes brought the reader into the story and the plotline.  Obviously, the author did some research to add authentic religious and occult details- mixing the elements of truth and fantasy. 

The author goes into extensive detail describing a fictitious, yet well woven quasi-spiritual story with some facts-  weaving together fables with Catholic and spitritual traditions and the occult. In fact, the same readers that actually believed Dan Brown's intricate tales of church intrigue and conspiracy theroies in the fictional novel, The Davinci Code, may be the very same gullible readers who may believe that there may be some basis of reality to this fiction piece. As with other works, the Catholic Church with its antique traditions, deep rooted history and elaborate rituals as well as the forbidden, secret occult groups has served as a good back-drop setting for many works of horror, fiction, drama pieces and thillers in movies and novels.

The classic battle between good and evil is integrated into the story- whereas the lurking danger of an ancient antagonistic presence is always there trying to obstruct goodness. It was well written with much detail, and is sure to appeal to a varied audience. The pseudo-realistic ideas presented as well as references to ancient traditions and, writings and  visions make this almost plausible for those readers who have not studied the bible truths . A troubling fact as a reader for me was that rather than seeking wisdom and information about spiritism and the occult from the bible many readers will read this book and have some confusion as to the truth about the occult.  .Nevertheless, this book is well written and the detailed storyline made it such that I did not want to put the book down.  As a blogger for Water Brook publishers, I recieved a free copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the ideas expressed are my own. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Waiting Place by Eileen Button

As I read the Waiting Place: Learning to Appreciate Life's Little Delays by Eileen Button, it seemed like I was reading someone's personal diary or journal.  The writing, recorded Button's own real life experiences- even the most mundane- as well as the associated thoughts that she felt. Each "essay" or entry covered a specific life event.  The overall theme that tied these stories together was the concept of waiting patiently.  The writing: the decsciptions of people, events and emotions-  was very well detailed, although the stories themselves on occasion, were not neccessarily inspirational.  Button's personality and interests clearly were obvious in this book, in fact, this book would certainly would be an invaluable family treasure or momento for her children and family, but as a reader not related or connected to the real life person - this book carried very little personal meaning or interest. If anything, this book might inspire the reader to keep his or her own journal.

Because this collection of essays is simply a compendium of the pages taken out of a woman's personal journal, there is not much to critque- as the author is simply presenting her own feelings and emotions about her life.  If the idea of picking up someones diary and reading it does not interest you, then as a reader, you will gain very little from reading this book.

Even though the author is a pastor's wife, she still holds on to some idolic remenants of her former Catholic upbringing.  Her awe at the Catholic church as she is reminded of the Catholic Church traditions are obvious- when she states "Non- Catholics don't understand the beauty, ritual and heritage. Neither can they understand the holy feeling I get when I swing open the church's heavy wooden doors and breath in the lingering scent of incense. I dip my fingers into the fount of holy water and make the sign of the cross....." (page 117).  Her humorous account of the dilema she faced when trying to remove a heavy statue of Mary, left behind by the former Catholic occupants of her new home revealed her idolic superticions that lingered as she refered to the statue as the "BVM"- which is short for Blessed Virgin Mary. Furthermore, the author apparently has an obession for menstruation - referring to a book her daughter was reading- a compendium of first menstruation stories- as it was the most common thing for an 11 year old girl to read, and thereafter refering to a young adult coming of age fictional book that focused on a girl's first period, as being the first memory she could think of when visiting her child hood home for the first time in thirty years.  Perhaps she grew up as a child- an an opressive, traditional home,  where for females- there was an undue focus on her first period as being a significant time in one's life.  If anything this book would do nothing to further the women's liberation movement and it simply furthers the common, yet antiquated sterotypes of women. Granted, some traditional female readers may relate to this author and  in fact enjoy this book- but as for me, it just wouldn't be my top choice. As a blogger for booksneeze I recieved this book for the purposes of writing this review.