Sunday, July 28, 2013

Stillwell by michael Phillip Cash

Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island is a new mystery- horror novel by Michael Phillip Cash.  It is rare to find an intelligently written work of fiction these days.   Although the haunting genre is popular and commonly depicted in horror and suspense novels, Cash's talent using the written word is what sets this book above and beyond the competition.  One can say the market is saturated with books on hauntings and the paranormal- the idea of a haunted mansion and an ominous evil presence is nothing new- except for the fact that Cash delivers the story with an element of realism and authenticity.  This conscientious writer pays attention to the fine details of writing, the sights, sounds and even odors of horror. There is no detail that gets past the eagle eye of this writer- where the written word becomes a form of art.  There are literally no dry areas in this book- something is always happening.  It has become commonplace for fiction writers to include dry filler to simply fill up pages and empty space.  Michael Cash's novel is full of poignant description, drama or action from the first page to the last.  He even has the talent to transform  the seemingly ordinary after dinner or office work place scenes into scenes of complex psychoanalysis. The end result- a well written novel with a touch of believability, in the tradition of the classic horror writers. The chapters themselves are ordered by the days of the week  over the span of seven days for a more dramatic effect in the tradition of the great haunting classics.

This hybrid genre combines the best of horror with mystery. Cash's novel will draw in a variety of readers as it integrates elements of  suspense, horror, psychology and even history.  There are enough authentic contemporary as well as historical details to make the geographic setting of the story  believable for the reader. The three dimensional characters are very well developed. In fact the reader can get into the deep recess  Paul, the main character's mind, as he succumbs to the living nightmare, doubting his own sanity. The reader can share in empathy with the grief of Paul after the loss of his wife. He and his children seem so vulnerable and lost, physically as well as spiritually.  Their lack of religious belief is obvious as the Paul and his children grasp for answers and assurance in the midst of the supernatural nightmare they face in the aftermath of Allison's death. Overall the  author does a thorough job as he delves into the depths of human emotions- resulting in a plausible scenario of how an average, otherwise  sane individual would face such nightmarish circumstances and events.  The reader gets the real sense of the insurmountable responsibilities shouldered by Paul in regards to his work, family and grief - on top of the nightmare he finds himself caught up in.  He finds he must even take on the role of a detective to end the nightmare, to boot!

The physical presentation of the book does not do this story justice- and could be improved with some updating for greater visual appeal.  The printing quality is not quite up to par with what you might find with the typical mass produced paperback novel, especially the binding and formatting details.  A raised or embossed title on the cover would more effectively grab the readers' attention therefore more suitable for this vivid and powerful work of fiction. Overall, I do not see what would stop Michael Phillip Cash's horror masterpiece from becoming a bestseller.   As a blogger I received a copy of this book published be Red Feather for the purpose of writing this review.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

When Tumor is the Rumor and Cancer is the Answer by Kevin P Ryan MD FACP

The newly published book, When Tumor is the Rumor and Cancer is the Answer  by Kevin P Ryan MD FACP is the cancer bible in that it is the only resource you will ever need- containing anything you would ever need to know about a cancer diagnosis.  The subtitle,  "A Comprehensive Text for Newly Diagnosed Cancer Patients and their Families" is certainly no understatement. Nevertheless, the word "text" should not intimidate the target reader, as in this case it does not imply this is a college medical book but rather a complete one stop resource.  This book is written specifically for the cancer patient and his family- for the layperson who has no prior experience in the medical field.  This ambitious volume covers everything from diagnosis, treatment and the health care team as well as the science and spirituality cancer as well.

The author, Kevin P Ryan MD FACP, draws from his personal, educational and practical experience as an oncologist. He dispels outdated myths such as the idea that cancer is a death sentence or that treatment must entail grueling pain and nausea.  He writes with optimism based on concrete facts on new scientific advancements in treating cancer such as targeted therapies, gene therapies and modern symptom control.  He gives objective and reliable information about ineffective alternative treatments and gives a word of warning about those who shameless profiteers who exploit the desperation of cancer patients in offering unproven treatments at heavy financial and emotional toll. His love of medicine, and pride in the achievements of medical science in the area of oncology is obvious.  This once in a lifetime book offers a unique perspective to the mind of a doctor. In addition to his extensive medical credentials, Dr. Ryan offers practical and spiritual advise to boot.  This doctor is equipped to handle medical question as well as spiritual and emotional issues as well.  It was an unexpected pleasure to see Dr. Ryan address spiritual issues with the same attentiveness and detail as the medical side of cancer.  The extensive nature of this book will satisfy even the most scientifically and medically oriented question about cancer.  The science behind cancer and treatments is covered in exhaustive detail to answer even the most difficult of questions. Even if one were to spend hours in a medical library, time would be better spent reading this book instead.

 Nevertheless, it is clear that this book is written with both the individual cancer patient and his family, equally, in mind.  As a close family member of an otherwise young and healthy person diagnosed with a late stage cancer- this book answered any question I had about cancer and more that I had not even considered.  There is no doubt that first few introductory chapters are written with the shocked and frightened cancer patient in mind, as the early chapters offer concrete inspiration in a time of confusion and hopelessness that every cancer patient should take to heart. This information is too valuable to be kept from a cancer patients- so for those that can't read it, I would strongly recommend that caretakers or family read this book and relay it to the cancer patient.  I can imagine that the more technical and detailed information of the book would be most appropriate for families as a newly diagnosed patient might be too shocked and too overcome with anxiety and grief to properly digest the wealth of medical information provided.  Yet the author, recognizes the unique emotional needs of shocked newly diagnosed patients  and provides inspirational and practical advise designed to inspire and empower even the most despondent and apathetic of cancer patients. 

Ryan's writing style is expressive and intelligent, and is indicative of his years of education. At times, the text may not lend itself easily to quick casual reading especially in this modern day and age where many readers have a simple reading level and short attention span.  The author's writing style might simply be too complex for some lesser educated and modern readers.  A strong point to this book is the author's ability to reach out to every potential reader and his attention to organization.   The chapters are identified and organized in such a way that the reader may skip specific sections  depending in their urgent need.  The time pressed reader may skim the table of contents and go directly to a particular chapter or subchapter such as the sections on diagnosis, treatments, clinical trials, side effects, pain or spiritual care. Main sections are subdivided and the subdivisions are as easily accessible for quick reference such as the various treatments and specific side effects.

 This hybrid book encompasses the science, psychology and spirituality of a cancer diagnosis. Unlike many books written on cancer, this book does not oversimplify cancer information in which the result is unreliable, generalized cancer information based on old wives tales and myths.  Cancer is complex without a doubt and there are no simple cookie cutter explanations- which many simplified books and web information erroneously present to the disservice of the public.

I know that internet information in large part is garbage when it comes to medical advice to be a fact because the internet told us that without a doubt the maximum span my sister had was 3-6 months back in October.  Not only is she still around, she is in remission! But the internet had us as a family embark on  her diagnosis with despair and fear and to this day those faulty internet statistics leave their bitter mark. As Dr. Ryan would have said- GIGO- garbage in, garbage out- that is what you get with many of the medical resources and statistics on cancer available to the public today on the internet and in bookstores. It would have been wonderful to have had Dr. Ryan's book back in October when we first received the diagnosis.  Dr. Ryan's book is the one stop resource that can point to everything you need including outside resources such as the American Cancer Society, reliable internet sites and even specific comforting biblical passages, There is no need to spend hours trolling the internet for unreliable cancer information or perusing the self help and medical shelves of bookstores for overly simplified useless books.  If you are only going to invest in one book on cancer, this should be the book.  It would be a service to patients and their families alike to make this book available in every public library, oncologist office and bookstore. As a blogger I received this book published by Authorhouse for the purpose of writing this review. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Secret Kingdom by Michele and Richard Bledsoe

The Secret Kingdom, a new children's book of poetry by Michele and Richard Bledsoe features over 20 years' worth of  Michele Bledsoe's artwork.  Michele Bledsoe's original art has been featured in art galleries- and finally, is now made available to readers of all ages in this incredible book.  This ambitious piece of work is destined to become the next children's classic, earning its place with the beloved works of Silverstein, Sendak, Mother Goose and A.A. Milne.  In fact, I believe no children's library will be complete without this book.
This compendium of art and poetry is a book to be treasured and passed down from generation to generation. Years later, the children of today will certainly be reading this book to their own children.  Perfect as a bedtime story book, it can be read and re-read.  The quality of art is unparalleled in this day and age of cheap, quickly drawn cartoons.  The "Tolkein-esq" poetry will appeal to readers of all ages, young and old alike as well as to children and their parents.  The poetry speaks to the reader with vivid imagery.  As the title indicates, to open its pages is to enter a new world; a new kingdom; The Secret Kingdom: forbidden, inviting, and mysterious all at the same time.

This book reaches out to a broad audience in the literary world as well as the art world making this the perfect gift for a young child or fine art enthusiast. In this modern literary age, it is certainly rare to find a newly created classic- but the Bledsoes have accomplished just that.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Capturing Every Day Life written & photographed by Jane Goodrich

The new, full cover book, Capturing Every Day Life written & photographed by Jane Goodrich is a great introduction to photography.  As the subtitle indicates: "the no-nonsense, cheese- free, read- while- they nap, easy- as-pie guide to taking top- notch, world- class photos of your kids", this is the perfect guide book for all kinds of parents who wish to learn about the art of photography and taking photos.  Like an intro to photography 101 course, this book starts with the basics.  Jane Goodrich does not assume the reader is an expert on cameras or photography which is a good thing.  The author begins with an introduction to cameras.  The reader will learn the basics point and shoot digital cameras as well as DSLR.  The different lenses are covered as well as megapixels, zoom, ISO and shutter speed.  Each of these is discussed simply and briefly, arranged topically for easy and quick reference.   Technical concepts such as aperture, and depth of field are discussed briefly and efficiently to allow the reader to grasp the concept without being burdened with too much information. Artistic concepts concerning composition of a photo is covered as well.  Not only that, plenty of common sense advice is offered for photographing children from new born babies to older teens.  I found this entire book to contain all the useful information one would need for taking photographs.  In addition there is a FAQ, and trouble shooting guide addressing common photography issues and problems.  Rather than sorting through useless internet information, all the pertinent information for taking photos is in this book.

Not only does this book cover everything a beginning photographer needs to know, full color photographs accompany each of the concepts introduced.  These educational photos are a guide into applying the photography concepts and strategies and serve to reinforce the effectiveness of this how- to guide. Not only that, the photographs are pieces of art in of themselves, and it is pretty exciting as Goodrich, a professional photographer, reveals her secrets to the reader, for taking expertly crafted photos.   As a professional photographer, its is no surprise that she is partial to professional photography as she still urges the reader to take a professional photography course and to seek the services of a professional photographer that has at his disposal, the  expensive and high tech equipment needed for once in a lifetime keepsake photos.  Nevertheless, I feel that the author has every right to take pride in her profession as a photographer as well as advocating the services of professional photographers in her book. 

This simple book empowers the reader to take photos of their children.  In this day of facebook, email and other social media, the standards of photography have been raised even for the novice.  These days it is not unusual for every parent to take hundreds of photos of their child even in the delivery room.  With this in mind, this book would make a great gift for every new parent or mom to be.  This 63 page book is filled with all the information needed to take great photos.  Her conversational and personal writing style and tone is very inviting to the reader. Basically every parent can learn from this book and it is a resource that can be read and re-read.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Jane Goodrich photography for the purpose of writing this review.

This Beautiful Mess by Rick McKinley

This Beautiful Mess: Practicing the Presence of the Kingdom of God by Rick McKinley is a hybrid book of theology and literature.  The modern cover looks like a piece of art, almost reminiscent of Eric Carle's mixed media work for children.  As a reader I found myself struggling to read the text contained in the intriguing, pieced image of the dove. I resigned myself to  the fact that the bits of text had no meaning and was for artistic effect much like the poetry included in the book.  Using biblical illustrations as well as personal anecdotes, the author's intent is to dispel commonly held myths and traditions surrounding religion and Christianity.

McKinley creates modern day parables and anecdotes to illustrate ageless truths of the bible.  At times the imagery is a bit extreme and forward as in the royal passenger in mysterious and eccentric clothing in order to illustrate the analogy of Jesus' kingdom.  Nevertheless this style of writing is powerful for the modern reader.  His writing is honest yet dramatic.  He points out the hypocrisy of established religions and traditions that are devoid of the true message of Jesus.   He makes the reader think about his own life and how many are living an incomplete powerless gospel. The author discusses the problems seen at two extremes of the spectrum: rigidity and liberalism.  But good deeds and salvation need not be mutually exclusive as its important to  incorporate the entire gospel: both  facts- that salvation is through Christ alone and also that salvation is open to all.

Within the text are selected pieces of prose and poetry from various writers.  This breaks up McKinley's text.  The writings are not necessarily connected to the text and as private works of different authors, they are subjective in nature.  The writing is honest but reminds me of something taken from someone's personal journey or what you may be submitted in a student creative writing course.  I am not sure of the purpose of their inclusion other than to give multiple personalities  to McKinley's work.  These pieces of poetry give the book an artistic feel.  In fact, not all the poetry included is specifically Christian in scope.  These extra writings might inspire some readers to write poetry of their own.  Appendix chapters provide more background information with a more direct approach.  There is also a short conversation guide.  Overall some good points were made in an artistic method.  As a blogger I received this book published by Multnomah for the purpose of writing this review.

N is for Noah by Ken & Mally Ham

N is for Noah by Ken & Mally Ham is a bright, full color, stand up, flip paged picture book for young children.  Designed for parents to read to young pre school and kindergarten aged children, this book teaches bible principles as well as well as the alphabet.  This picture book written in rhyme is almost reminiscent of the literary style of Dr. Suess' picture books.

Each large page of the substantially sized flip chart features a full sized, simply drawn color cartoon depicting a scene from the story of Noah's ark as well as other well known stories in genesis. The comic book styled, bold illustrations will be certain to appeal to young children.  Each scene or page introduces a new biblical based concept based on the letter theme introduced in alphabetical order.  This original story does not simply use nouns for the word choices, but also verbs or adjectives as well.  The book begins with "A is for Ark" and ends with "Z is for Zealous".  The story flows well as each page depicts a few simple statements in rhyme- a perfect tidbit for young children to follow without losing their attention.  Yet the story in not chronological as it jumps around as it is alphabetically based.  Nevertheless, because this book introduces biblical and spiritual concepts, some of the words are complex theologically, and may require additional discussion.  For example, the words and concepts such as  "rebellion, sin, death, judgment, destruction, zealous" will certainly require additional explanation by the parent or adult. The parent should be prepared to answer questions that will inevitably be raised. Nevertheless, this all- inclusive book offers many additional parent and teacher helps needed to effectively discuss these biblical concepts to young children.  On the back of every page of this story is a corresponding page dedicated to each words introduced- 26 in all- one for every letter in the alphabet.  This aspect of the book is similar to a teacher's text with teaching suggestions, biblical references and even activities and review questions to re-enforce the material.  Because the material is not incorporated into the story, it does not interfere with the flow of the story for children and can be optional.  The final page of the flip chart has a special spot for a child to sign and date after reading a prayer inviting Jesus into his or her life.

One thing I feel would have improved on this book would be to incorporate a chart or illustration on the stand up back cover.  Instead one side of this cover is used to list additional recommended resources and books and the other side serves like a back cover and offers a summary of the book as with any traditional book.  I feel to take advantage of the stand up feature of this spiral bound flip book, and to incorporate a genesis themed chart would have been a better use of this space.

This book is not simply for casual entertainment, but will actually teach the gospel message to children.  Rather than listing disjointed bible stories or concepts, common with children's bible story books, the authors weave these biblical concepts together into the good news for children. "Z for Zealous" is a perfect ending in that each child is encouraged to share his faith. "Y is for Years", while intimidating if read without any explanation or discussion, is biblically true nonetheless. 

Therefore this book is not simply a casual story, as it does require additional parent discussion as well.   This originally designed book is made to stand upright on display, rather then tucked away in a bookshelf.  This ambitious book has the power to change lives, and it offers the supplementary information parents will need to deliver the biblical message to children.  As a blogger I received this book published by Master Book, an imprint of New Leaf publishers for the purpose of writing this review. 

Purchase from NLP

New Leaf Press

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

NKJV Ignite bible

Recently  I have had the opportunity to review the NKJV Ignite bible for teens.  This is a very impressive bible, that is sure to catch the teenaged reader's attention.  Literally, the appealing graphics make you want to read this bible.  The coordinated two tone graphics: orange and brown and the modern, easy to read text and  layout presentation is perfect for teenaged readers (as well as other readers as well).  Paragraph titles are in bold, contrasting colored text.  As an adult, even I found myself wishing the word "Teen" was not printed in the cover so that I could use this as my main bible.  I almost can  not imagine a more perfectly designed bible.  The textured soft cover with an embossed flame graphic is just another attention to detail in this well designed bible. 

This bible is more than a visual volume.  There are a number of study helps in this bible, such as short articles about applying spiritual concepts for today's generation.  There is an extensive guide to key bible words as well as modern full color maps and a quick where to turn to topical guide. There is also a topical index in the front as well.  These features make this a good overall bible.  Unlike gender specific bibles, this bible is just as suited for boys as well as girls. 

The NKJV is  frequently used translation by Thomas Nelson publishers for their themed bibles.  The NKJV is a literal and trustworthy translation for serious study. For teens and younger readers who may be new to the bible, the NKJV may difficult to understand as well as for many of today's readers in general. While the gospels are straightforward regardless of the translation, other bible books may be less clear in the NKJV.  This is especially evident in the Psalms, and other old testament books as well as the letters in the New Testament where the subtleties of the NKJV are more difficult for certain deeper theological and spiritual concepts.  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 it is an impediment to understanding God's word.  Ironically, a bible marketed towards teens is based on a literal, somewhat difficult translation.  The only improvement  is that firstly I would have liked to see this teen bible offered in the CEV also published by Thomas Nelson or even the NLT and secondly, an adult version for adults to use. As a blogger for booksneeze  I received this book for the purpose of writing this review.


Choose your bible wisely......

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.  While the gospels are straightforward regardless of the translation, other bible books may be less clear in the NKJV or  KJV or ESV.  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.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Free Book or Bible from Tyndale

Within a few minutes you can get enough points for a free book or bible!  It doesn't take long, and there are no shipping costs.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why Did I Lose My Job if God Loves Me by Rick J. Pritikin

Why Did I Lose My Job if God Loves Me by Rick J. Pritikin, is a timely 31 day devotional targeted for those who are unemployed, jobless and discouraged.  This small 143 page devotional book is part of the "once a-day" series of topical devotionals.  Each bite sized devotional includes a relevant biblical verse, a page or two sized devotional and plenty of lined journal space for the reader to record his own thoughts.  This is more than a book, but rather an empowering devotional series.  Using biblical illustrations and his own personal experiences of being unemployed, the author addresses the difficult issues that the jobless face.  These real world issues include financial crisis, such as losing one's home or apartment as a result of the inability to pay the mortgage or rent. Other issues include relationship issues as families and spouses fight and are torn apart due to joblessness.  Self esteem issues are forefront as the months and maybe years tick away without a job prospect and as the financial problems escalate.  This realistic book addresses the worst fears of the unemployed and invites the reader to explore his fears as well.  Yet this book isn't about self pity or pity parties.  Nor is this book about simply commiserating with the depressed out of work reader.  This author brings up important issues that are practical as well as spiritual in not only finding a new job but in increasing one's relationship with God through the word of God.  In fact, even losing one's job can have a greater purpose as trial leads to increased spiritual dependence and God and strength.  This is not simply a book to read passively, but to follow.  The scripture is worthy of memorizing and the points are essential to meditate on as well as journal about.  To get the most out of this book, the reader should really make use of the full pages available for writing notes.  This could even serve as a springboard to keep a daily journal. Relevant spiritually and practically I wish this book was available in every unemployment office.  As a blogger for booksneeze I received this book published by Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing this review.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Matt Monroe and the Secret Society by Edward Torba

Matt Monroe and the Secret Society by Edward Torba is a  is more than a simple fantasy novel for young readers.  With his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree, and three decades of experience  as a practicing dentist, the author incorporates his expertise and love of dentistry in order to create an entirely new world for the young reader to enter.  This imaginative tale goes beyond the typical two dimensional novel.  The author creates a three dimensional world, complete with its own unique philosophy, history and even a quasi spiritual- orthodontia belief system.  With the insertion of lively imagery, the reader is introduced to the Secret Society of Odontology, elves, ominous evil creatures and a mysterious quest!

The classic good against evil plot is reinvented with a dental  themed twist.  Drawing from various religious sources, and commonly known tooth fairy myths, Edward Torba creates his own imagined alternate reality. This is an entirely newly invented world that integrates prophecy and religion.  This story is complete with its  unique dental  based creation tale explained by the"Circle of Existence" with the elements of the supernatural and magic.  Yet even in the supernatural fantasy, the dental theme is still obvious.  For example, the peppermint aroma reminiscent of dental rinse or toothpaste, a hallmark of dentists everywhere, wafts in the city of Odont. Even the city is aptly named.  Specially selected children agree to go on a dangerous mission to save the world from evil.  These young children are the "messiahs" who fulfill ancient, highly anticipated prophecy. Even the ancestry elements mirrors religious prophesy.    In this new world, past and present are joined and there exists no barriers between the physical and imaginary realm.    Evil is represented by the rebellious figure, Damien who rebelled against the "Eternal One". One can even see elements of Mormon myth as well.   In fact, the quaint fairy tale myth young children have grown accustomed to is simply part of a brainwashing plot or subterfuge.  The similarities  to Satan, the fallen angel of the bible, is striking.  The balance of evil and good reflects  the incorporation of Eastern philosophy as well. Interestingly enough, an empowering theme that effort and morals are more important than physical might and appearance are also incorporated into the story for the young reader.  This is especially important for the young pre-teen and teenaged target audience.  Also, this book illustrates that life is not predetermined and that free will can still prevail in overcoming what seems like a hopeless circumstance.

The religious significance can not be underestimated.  In the ending scenes, the elves are depicted as falling down "prostrate" or worshipping as well as the young hero, Matt who also "instinctively fell to his knees"  at the sound of the "Eternal One" as they listen to the divine declaration "I am mother, I am father. I am bread, I am water.......I am the Eternal- first and last....Peace be to you. my peace do I give." (Page 343-344).

It is obvious that dentistry is not simply a career for this author, but a science and a religion.  This is especially reinforced with the spiritual themes as well as the climatic ending.  This book is intended for older children.  This lengthy 357 page book is perfect for pre teens and teenagers.  Suggestive "coming of age" themes and dialogue make this book not as suitable to be read to very young children.  The insertion of lightweight curse words such as the word "crap" or "oh my God"  uttered by the teenaged characters is more appropriate for the teenaged reader under parental guidance.  I feel the religious undertones of this book might be too excessive for some younger readers.  Yet it will not detract from the enjoyment of the story.  I believe dentists everywhere will enjoy getting this book for their own children, especially. The dental theme is indeed a specific niche, nevertheless I feel that this story can be enjoyed by the general reader as well.  The cover art as well as book presentation is certain to draw in those readers who enjoy fantasy novels.  I feel odontology should somehow have been incorporated into the title as it is this distinction which sets this book apart from other fantasy novels more so than including the full name of the main hero, "Matt Monroe".  As a blogger I received this book published by All Points Press, from the author for the purpose of writing this review. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Blueberry Bubble Gum by Mahamad Ali Elfakir

Blueberry Bubble Gum by Mahamad Ali Elfakir with illustrations by Victor Guiza is a new children's story inspired by the author's own young children. Intended to be read by parents as a bedtime story, or for grade school readers, this unique book blends a unique fantasy with a moral about the importance of honesty.  The colorful, bold blue bubblegum themed graphics and cartoons will hold the interest of any young reader.

 This simple yet complex fantasy tale, will raise many questions for the readers.  As I read this eccentric story, it became apparent that some questionable and interesting elements to the story may catch the reader by surprise. First and foremost, the vivid depictions of Max as he "tooted" in his bed, followed by "a loud ripping sound" to see  a "huge blueberry bubble ripping through the seat of his pajama pants" caught me off guard.  The photo on page 10 depicts a confused and frightened Max laying supine in bed, birthing a huge blue bubble between his legs as he tightly grasps the bag of blueberry balls for dear life . Later in the story, Max finds himself intentionally forcing "himself to release the biggest toot he ever had" Page 33. Thereafter, the scenes depicting Max free floating is the sky propelled by a huge bubble affixed to his hindquarters does not seem like the subject matter that a mother or educator would read to children. Yet I can imagine children squealing in laughter at these scenes of the story.  In this day and age, this is what is endearingly referred to "potty talk" by educators and teachers, I doubt that any teacher or parent would want to encourage this by reading a story that made reference to "toots", "tooting" and "tooted", which is a euphemism for the socially inappropriate bodily function of passing gas.  Secondly, I felt it might be confusing to introduce Max to young readers as a "good" kid  despite his "big problem" with lying.  It begs the question as to what exactly makes Max a good kid, if all he does is lie to his parents. Thirdly, unless this adventure was staged as a lesson for young Max, an adult can not help but question as to why his dad gave Max the bag of bubble gum without having time for an explanation. The theory that this whole lesson was purposely staged is negated in the end when his parents try to tell Max he must have been dreaming. The adult reader can not help but wonder why not wait to give the magical bag of gum until the following morning? Was his father just trying to torture his young son with temptation? His naïve parents had to know he would disobey their warnings. 

To the author's credit, he tells the moral of the importance of honesty and of fighting against temptation and peer pressure in a format that young children will most likely enjoy.  I can imagine any child, especially elementary school aged boys, giggling and listening with their full attention as this story is read.  This story shows that no one is beyond redemption, and that anyone, even the worst liar can have a change of heart.  Interestingly, the author integrates the popular element of good verses evil in which their is a battle between the good gumballs, and the bad, evil green "Wayward" gumballs.  The wise old gumball named "Erudition" represents the voice of reason and objectivity.  There are spiritual parallels in the context of this children's fiction story.  At the end Max was miraculously transformed from a boy that always told "little" lies to a boy that "would never lie again..... [and be] responsible for teaching others to do the same". page 38.  I felt the ending was abrupt, yet to the point when the parents simply responded that "You and the blueberry bubble gum are safe on your bed, this all must have been a dream in your head."  If it is the father that alleges the gum is magical, then one is left to wonder why he so easily discounts Max's story as being simply " a dream in his head"?  As a blogger I received this book published by Elfa Books for the purpose of writing this review. 

10,000 Babies: My life in the delivery room by Silvio Aladjem M.D.

Silvio Aladjem M.D, board certified in Obstetrics, with a sub- specialty of Maternal Fetal Medicine MFM,  has written a memoir of his vast and eclectic experiences in the newly published book 10,000 Babies: My life in the delivery room.  This book is not only a collection of anecdotes and experiences, but it also provides historical information about childbirth in general.  The reader can learn the intriguing history of the hospital birth as well as the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) , the use of ultrasound and prenatal genetic testing.  The author's career spanned a great number of years during a monumental time of change in the area of obstetrics as well as the use of birth control.  Filled with facts, real life stories, and historical information- this is everything you wanted to know from your OB-GYN but would not otherwise have.  This is a unique glimpse into the mind and experiences of a doctor.

There is only so much medical information one can find on the internet, and very little available about personal experiences from real life doctors.  Doctor Google offers incomplete and unreliable medical information based on  anecdotes that unqualified hypochondriacs post.  Regrettably, many rely on internet research for medical information, and advise- especially when it comes to pregnancy.  Simply consider the abundance of online forums, websites and apps dedicated to the subject of pregnancy.  Pregnancies widely vary, yet moms continue to compare symptoms and experiences nonetheless resulting in unnecessary panic and worry.  This book is a wonderful and timely resource not only for those who thirst for more medical knowledge, but also moms who wish to learn more about pregnancy from the point of view of the doctor.  The author writes simply so that the layman can understand.  He does not extensively use medical terminology, and when he does, he explains medical concepts simply.  A times I found these stories to serve as a springboard in my quest for further research.  His writing style is certainly that of a doctor.  He retells his stories objectively without the insertion of his opinion.  The dialog that he includes between patient and doctor as well as the commentary, is professional and to the point.  He does not let bias or emotion taint his communication, written in reporter-like fashion.  Just as with any professional doctor, the reader will find that in his professional relationships he can not make future promises or predictions to his patients - something that many patients erroneously feel entitled to receive.  The author recognizes that unexplained stillbirths still do occur in even an apparently well monitored diabetic pregnancy without warning.  Such deaths are "a tragic reminder that  research ...still needs to be undertaken" (page 98), and that there are elements in childbirth, such as the uniquely complex organ, the placenta, that still remain a mystery.  The author does well to cite statistics in the areas of maternal mortality and its vast improvement.  The story "Just Give Me a Hug" would have provided a good opportunity to discuss the high rate of stillbirth up to 1 out of 160 births, that still exists today in this modern age. 

Silvio Aladjem M.D. has had a broad range of experiences as a doctor in the field of obstetrics. Not only has he assumed the medical care of his patients, he has had to take over the role of psychiatrist and social worker when accessing the mental state of his patients as well.  Just about every pregnancy scenario is covered ranging from the standard textbook pregnancy to a high risk pregnancy ending in an unexpected stillbirth.  He has seen the spectrum of mental illness in his patients and their families as well. Some stories are humorous, and even difficult to believe  such as the naïve, and ignorant couple married for over twenty years that erroneously believed that by taking turns taking a birth control, that a woman would be adequately protected from pregnancy. 

Several patients were victims of dysfunctional and abusive relationships. The reader will certainly cringe at the capacity of one partner to emotionally and physically abuse his enabling victim.  Dr. Aladjem has found that on such occasions he had to act as a mediator or even contact social services on behalf of his patient.  It is incredible the stubbornness parents will have when it comes to such innocuous topics such as knowing the sex of the unborn baby.  It is amazing to believe in this day and age, that a psychosis can convince a woman she is nine months pregnant and in labor, when she isn't or vice versa- that she adamantly denies a pregnancy even in the midst of labor pains.  The ignorance of such patients amazes me to the point of disbelief.  I can only imagine that the doctor encountered these delusional patients earlier in his career when pregnancy in general was considered taboo in society and shrouded in shame and mystery. 

Other stories are heartbreaking such as the unexpected stillbirth of a young diabetic woman, or the couple that chose to carry a pregnancy in which their unborn child was diagnosed with anencephaly, a terminal condition incompatible with life.  Clearly this author  triumphantly shares with the reader the autonomy that birth control allows.  For example, a young woman had  experienced her 8th miscarriage, and had not sought medical answers.  She was in an abusive relationship in which her partner forbade her from spending any money for specialist care.  Dr. Aladjem had to become her advocate and help her to fulfill her desire for autonomy from an abusive relationship and for birth control to end the cycle of miscarriage.  Another woman had hyperemesis which she wrongly attributed to pregnancy.  The Dr. later learned in an interview with the patient it was due to emotional problems resulting from a stressful relationship with the husband and mother in law.  The Dr. had to mediate and act as his patient's protector to facilitate her emotional healing. 

The author's passion about his medical field is clear in the pride he has when he discusses medical achievements.  His triumphant tone of writing when he talks about a positive outcome with a patient or a new medical advancement is obvious.  Even though he doesn't include the dates of his practice, based on the stories and the social norms, one can surmise that he practiced during the cusp of great medical advancement in the areas of  Obstetrics, specifically the NICU, MFM and birth control somewhere between the 50s- 80s.  To the author's credit, he does not explicitly address controversial issues such as choice and birth control.  His writing indicate he is an advocate of birth control.  Yet, with humanity he recognizes the miracle of the birth of a terminally ill baby that the parents chose to carry to term.  The experience is described with endearment as he shares with the reader his amazement that they "both deeply loved their child" (page 202) and he did not want to deny their request to monitor the heart rate of their baby during labor- which at the time was not standard practice.

The ominous statement on the back cover, "Sometime in the future, they [those who have not become parents or already parents] may even relive any of these stories" is not comforting,  yet statistically  true nonetheless.  This harbinger of reality brings to light the possibility that the reader too may find herself faced with a high risk birth that ends in a loss. Some of these stories might be too distressing for an emotional  pregnant woman to read.   On the other hand, in this modern era of health education in modern public schools, where every teen is fully educated in birth control, I doubt any reader in this day and age will experience a pseudo- pregnancy or that any male, will find himself ingesting a birth control pill in the belief that it will prevent a pregnancy in his female partner.  Silvio Aladjem MD also provides insight into his own career and his motivations for choosing this specific area in medicine for his practice.  This would be the perfect book for any layperson interested in obstetrics or the medical field in general.  As a blogger I received this book published by author House for the purpose of writing this review.