Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Demon Dictionary by Kimberly Daniels

With its dramatic title, I can imagine many readers will be drawn to read Kimberly Daniels' new book, The Demon Dictionary: Know your enemy. Learn his strategies. DEFEAT HIM.  This new quasi- reference work is volume 1 of an upcoming series to include a total of three volumes.  The title implies that it is a reference book, nevertheless, the chapters are organized topically rather than alphabetically. 

This small 216 page book is a lot smaller than what would be expected for a reference volume. Nevertheless, there is a wealth of information on the subject of demonology- so much so, that this book can not simply be read cover to cover in one sitting.   Although exhaustive and complete in its content, I would have preferred to see all three volumes combined into one larger, single volume.  This is like a field guide to identify all things related to demonology and evil.

This book contains probably much more information about demons than any Christian really needs to ever know.  On occasion I wondered how much is simply conjecture or theatrical, based on native tradition, folklore, occult and witchcraft, rather than biblically based ideas of demonology.   Although the commentary is strongly grounded in scripture as a whole, the lengthy chapter titled "Esoteric definitions" is largely based on folklore and other historical and literature sources, rather than the bible.  This gives the book a wider appeal and would provide a lot of indepth information for a research paper on demonology or even background information for a docudrama or film on possession. The Christian seeking to build his or her faith might be side tracked by this excessive information which is not grounded in the biblical text.  For example, the entries abracadabra, devil's baton, familiar, Lilith, Papaloi  and Succubus have little to do with Christianity and more to do with literature, folklore and even video gaming.  The "General terms" chapter has such entries such as bugaboo, cancer, catatonic, cloven foot, centering, equinox, poltergeist and masturbation.  This eclectic mix of terms related to occult and new age practices is nice to know, but the reader may not directly see how to apply these concepts in any meaningful way.  Chapter six is an exhaustive compendium of every "mancy" term ranging fromaeromancy, axinomancy, botanomancy cubomancy  to xylomancy.  A quick, simple definition is provided for each, yet I am sure the reader may find himself questioning the relevancy.  For many readers, these three chapters may seem like trivia- intriguing- but not essential information. Overall this is not a book to be read in a linear cover to cover fashion, but basically a reference word.  terms are alphabetically grouped within the specific chapters but the chapters are organized by topics.

The most pertinent chapter for bible believing Christians is chapter three which contains a thorough listing of scripture verses having to do with the devil, and demons.

Overall, this book is a reference work- basically containing everything anyone could ever want to know about demons.  The bible is a spring board as it is written from the spiritual point of view acknowledging the authority of Christ.  Yet, most of the book is filled with folklorish or sociological  information when it comes to glossary or dictionary portion.  This book is best suited for the researcher, filmmaker or writer or anyone exploring or researching demonology for the purpose of writing a report, or filming a documentary.  The author really put a lot of work and research into this book.  For its niche audience -it is the perfect resource. As a blogger for the Booketeria I received this book published by Charisma House for the purpose of writing this review. 

I am Ruth -- Photography by Kenneth Berg, Text by Brenda Duff

I am Ruth: A story of Loss, Love & Redemption features the beautiful photography of Kenneth Berg and commentary by Brenda Duff as well as the text of the complete old testament book of Ruth. This chronological and graphic account recreates the journey of Ruth, as well as the entire story.  Beautifully created, this book brings to life the book of Ruth in a way that can never be accomplished using a simple text format.

This book is better than a motion picture about the life of Ruth.  The photos are expressive, taking place in the actual ancient locations of the book of Ruth.  Authentic cultural, ecological,
environmental and social details are throughout this book! The creators could not have produced a better more realistic depiction of Ruth's life! Full color photos with expressive actors and actresses recreate the strong emotions: the hope, the anxiety and stresses of this ancient time. One can spend hours literally reading into the photographs themselves.   Old testament culture is not only explained but depicted in full color. There are authentic depictions of traditional clothing and farming practices as well as  homes.  A lot of work was put into creating the scenes, used as the backdrop for the photos.  This 86 page, full color book is a hybrid between a photo-shoot and a historical chronicle. The creators add clarity to the story of Ruth for all readers. This book is one to be treasured and passed down- and can be enjoyed by everyone: young, old, religious and secular alike.  A wide range of readers will appreciate this book- not only the religious or Christian reader, but anyone who enjoys ancient history and archeology. 

As a blogger I received this book published by New Leaf Press for the purpose of writing this review.

I Am Ruth Available at NLP

New Leaf Press

Available on B&N

Friday, August 30, 2013

Christians Remember Your Past Lives Learn How by Douglas Casimiri

The newly published book, Christians Remember Your Past Lives Learn How by Douglas Casimiri is an attempt at reconciling Christian doctrine with Eastern and New Age concepts of reincarnation, karma, and mediation.  This is an ambitious piece of work cleverly weaving a number of new age concepts and packaging them in "Christian" form.  The author creates a curriculum to incorporate these various disjointed concepts and weaves them into one, cohesive field of study. In essence this book presents a new- hybrid religion related to the infamous spiritualist Cayce, known as the "Sleeping Prophet". This book, and its message, is the ultimate, logical conclusion of the  ecumenical movement which refers to  outreach of Christians to reach out to other religions and/or denominations.  In this case, the author attempts to persuade the nominal Christian, that the new age and Eastern spiritual beliefs condemned by the bible, are in fact compatible.  Using the phrase "Christian" is an attempt to make the teaching more palatable and to give credibility.  Through compromise, alternate or out of text "interpretations" and unique and  novel theories, the author asserts that reincarnation is a compatible with the Christian faith, and furthermore- Jesus is Buddha reincarnated and the concept of soul age basically explains all the ills of society.  Basically if there was in existence a book that taught apologetics in reverse- this is it. This is the anti apologetic book, more subtle, yet powerful in its ability to distort or confuse biblical teaching. The author draws heavily on Eastern religious writings and practices as well as apocryphal works as well.  One must remember that these so called "lost books" of the bible are not divinely inspired and do not represent biblical truth or Jesus' teaching.

This small 152 page book is a very thorough, exhaustive piece of work- introducing the reader to a whirlwind of New Age concepts: Indigo children, soul age (young vs. old souls), reincarnation, meditation and past life regression.  In text like fashion, this book is written to educate or indoctrinate the reader into accepting the logic that Christianity, Jesus and reincarnation are compatible and that Jesus taught reincarnation. The ultimate goal is to get the target reader- the  nominal Christian, and church goers,  into conducting their own past life regression experiences to reveal their own lives.  accepting some anti biblical ideas. 

It is extremely tempting to accept wholeheartedly what Casimiri asserts concerning the concept of soul age and the idea of reincarnation.  Many readers may find it comforting to know that their unsuccessful, immature, or otherwise flawed loved ones are probably new souls who are not yet comfortable in their own skins.  I can see how it might provide some assurance for those readers whose lives are less than ideal- whether financially, physically or emotionally, to have the excuse of being a new soul and that they will have an opportunity to perhaps try this life thing again at another time.  On the other hand, successful and well known personalities in the arts and philosophers and religious figures are deemed to be old souls who have lived multiple lives acquiring much wisdom.  To use Paul's expression from the New Testament,  this book's message will flatter or tickle the ears of its readers. Readers will want to believe the author's explanation- and many in fact will accept it as truth.

According to the author, the exercise of meditating and hypnosis can facilitate the reader to remember past lives through memories revealed in a meditative state or even reoccurring dreams which offer insight and clues into past lives.  This book is a handbook, providing the steps for the reader to conduct life regression sessions.  In fact, any reader can follow along and conduct his own sessions on himself or direct the sessions of another.  Steps on meditation and hypnotherapy are provided, step by step.  Even the script needed to lead either one's personal session or to facilitate the session of another, is included.  The back of the book even includes an "Examination For Certification As Past-Life and Age Regression Facilitator".  Completing this and mailing the exam with the fee will result in certification. 

Every concept introduced by this book: Karma, Buddha, soul age, Indigo children, reoccurring dreams, and meditation ties together into one complete puzzle for the reader.  Their are no loose ends- its a tightly woven theory- with one major issue- it is neither biblical nor Christian. Christians, nominal Christians, new Christians and religious church goers who are not solidly grounded in the bible may wind up accepting this book as true.  Readers who do not have a strong foundation in their faith may find themselves led astray.  This book tugs at the emotions and is powerfully convincing but even Paul warned in the bible that if anyone, even an angel teaches a new gospel or message, that it is to be rejected and furthermore, that even Satan himself can appear to be an angel of light and deceive people with believable sounding false doctrines. 

An especially valuable element of this book, if any  can be gleaned from its pages, is the idea of reflecting on one's dreams. Everyone has dreams, and reoccurring dreams are very common.  This book challenges the reader to dig deep, into the recesses of the mind or imagination to create a new story- an entirely new world.  This could provide creative fuel for any writer or student who find's himself caught with writer's block. The guided mental exercise of exploring one's dreams, flexes the unused creative process of the mind. In fact those readers who never considered writing or journaling, might even find their creativity stirred into existence with a newfound appreciation for imagination, writing and creativity. For those readers with an academic interest into research in the are of New Age studies, occult or Eastern spirituality, this book is a must read.  Those readers who are easily mislead or influenced or less grounded in their beliefs, may find themselves not only accepting reincarnation wholeheartedly but possibly even believing they have revealed specific details about their own past lives.  To the author's credit, this is not only a well written, thorough book, but an entire curriculum in the area of past life regression.  As a blogger I received this book, published by Author House for the purpose of writing this review.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Encouragement for Today by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst, Samantha Evilsizer

Encouragement for Today: Devotions For Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst, Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Team is a newly published book that includes 100 devotions from over a dozen contributing authors.  Each devotional is short and easy to understand, and directly applies to the lives of women in modern society.  Each excerpt includes a themes, scripture, quick prayer and three sections: Remember, Reflect, Respond to reinforce the spiritual lesson adding an additional personal dimension to the material.  The fact that over a dozen contributing women worked to write this book is certain to draw in many readers, from all walks of life.  This reflects the reality that even though women share some common challenges, that women face varied circumstances and are in different phases of life.  This book's audience is broad and includes mothers, wives, grandmothers, and independent career women, students and singles with experiences and needs ranging from the trivial day to day issues to intense pain and grief.  Some of the writers draw heavily on their own personal experiences and anecdotes, while others are more theological or draw on stories taken directly from the bible.  This varied style adds to the variety of this compendium so as to not alienate some readers whose personal lives and experiences vary widely.  Basically this book is like a modern day book of parables for today's reader.

When writing a book for a broad audience- it is hard to have every devotion apply to every reader- its impossible in fact.  In large part the writers tend to focus on the middle to upper middleclass, comfortable woman- married, with children and either a career woman or stay at home mom. And yes it is true for many readers, life is less than ideal- as these readers may not be able to relate to all circumstances or stories in the devotions. There are daily devotions included that cover severe hardships such as home foreclosure, divorce, illness and abuse.  Some are personal stories of overcoming and some are written from the point of view of the caring friend or sister offering support. Each writer has her own style and personality.  For example, Lysa is very outspoken and volatile and speaks a lot about marriage.  This will encourage readers in troubled marriages to persevere as well.  Either way, this book will equip the reader to endure hardships as well as becoming a listening ear or in offering comfort to others who might be suffering. I believe that the writers are writing as an outreach to the large audience of fast paced, busy women who may be too sidetracked with career and family to take time to ponder the word of God.

With its simple cover of a minimalist white vase and color coordinated blooms, it looks as if this image came from a home décor magazine or other popular women's magazine.  Those women who religiously follow  the latest issues of Home & Garden, Self or Oprah, feeding their minds on materialistic junk, should pick this book up instead and feed their souls.  Personally I feel this book is a perfect outreach in order to draw in the modern middleclass- upperclass woman to integrating biblical principles into her day.  This book teaches an attitude of thankfulness and appreciation- traits that are often overlooked in modern privileged society. It also teaches empathy and other the development of other spiritual traits that can be used to help others in the reader's circle of friends, family and associates.   In general, I feel this is an empowering book as it addresses the special and unique emotional needs of women.  It is packaged in an appealing format.  This is a good book of life lessons, in short bursts.  Any reader who meditates on the authors' messgaes will find a more fulfilling, spiritual life in accordance with biblical teaching.
As a blogger for booksneeze I received this book from Zondervan publishers for the purpose of writing this review,

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Day at the Game -Invasion of the Overpriced Concessions

A strange creature hobbles down the steep stone steps.  Despite her youth, her sun bleached blond hair pulled back in a pony tail, her strained contorted expression betrays her natural beauty with  features, reminiscent of Quasimodo, as she bellows in a coarse loud voice, "Ice cold beer, water....Ice cold beer, water!"

 In bondage by a large oversized  crate, cruelly strapped to her thin frame, filled to the brim with overpriced, mouth watering bottles of water, Coke and beer, dripping with pearls of dew.

 Each slow hobbling limp is painful to observe.  Her tired muscles twitch and quiver beneath her neon day glow, nylon  shorts and color coordinated pristine Nike running shoes.  Her hunched, uneven shoulders buckle under the weight of the concession yoke. Her grimace with each small step screams in silent pain.  I attempt to distract myself by concentrating on the simple bold, black, block letters on her bright yellow jersey that identify her simply as a nameless "VENDOR".  I am torn between the basic instinct of thirst, and also of pity, repulsion and the outrage of a small $4 bottle of water. A mix of emotion overwhelms me, that I simply give up in disgust, as I contemplate the possibility of abandoning my seat and going home.  The repetitions "ice cold beer...water", a dying howl, a masculinized bellow betwixt human and animal, fill the crowded stands like a metronome in the background- a non stop reminder of the irony of overpriced concessions, thirsty parched crowds and tortured, contorted food mules. I contemplate on what is it about attending ball games or amusement parks, that transform oneself into feeling parched, overheated and exhausted; dying of thirst.

I can not even concentrate on the game, for how can I find this grueling experience entertaining- the medley of emotions- feeling parched and repulsed. This is not the barren dessert or the third world, yet it feels as close as I will ever get with overpriced water and food beyond my reach, and the hot sun unmercifully beating down.  Driven by my thirst, I take a discarded crumpled, empty water bottle from my threadbare sack and trudge my way to the public restroom.  I pull the flimsy bottle out of my bag and with determination, fill it in the restroom sink.  I find I have to continuously press the button as each burst of water lasts only two seconds.  After 15 minutes of perseverance, mounting shame, ignoring  any disapproving glances, I have filled my bottle with liquid refreshment.  The first sip is refreshing, and most of all it is free.  I was adamant that I was not going to spend four valuable dollars on a bottle of water when the sink would do.  I contemplate how long I would have to work to even earn $4. I contemplate on the groceries I could buy for four dollars: two loaves of bread....  or three full sized bottles of soda.... or a pound of turkey from the deli... the list goes on.  My disgust at the extortion mounts as I pass the overpriced concessions on my way back to my seat. For the cost of a single hot dog I can buy an entire package of hot dogs, buns and 6 pack of soda at the grocery store.  I shake my head at the reminder of the wanton frivolous expense of a single hot dog that I could neither afford nor justify.  This game is not entertaining or enjoyable whatsoever.  I am not having any fun.  Even the word "fun" seems strange to me; such an unusual word it is.

Faceless, nameless hoards in the bleachers, and a continuous procession, long mile long lines of sweaty "fans" exchanging their money out for seconds of refreshment, parched with thirst in the crowded stadium.  One would think gold was being sold, at the over inflated prices.  Yet it is not gold; just water, simple pretzels, scoops of melted ice cream. On the return trip, men, women children walk slowly and deliberately back to their seats holding for dear life onto their purchase so not to spill a drop of water or lose a drip of ice cream or drop a fry- as if it were treasure.  Weary, angry, mothers admonish their toddling toddlers as they drop a fry or spill a drop of precious cola.

The miniscule baseball players appear to be a world away, nothing more than dots, obscured by large screens and bright flashing ads and loud short bursts of random music.

When the game is finally over, I feel an overwhelming sense of relief, an occasion to rejoice.  I do not even know what the score was or what team won- the game itself obscured by the grueling environment and basic feelings of want.  Once again, I did not have any fun.  I don't even recall what the word "fun" means. Ironically, the best experience of the day is when it is time to leave my seat and find my car and crumple in exhaustion: physical and mental. My day is done. I go home.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Spartan & the Green Egg by Nabila Khashoggi illustrated by Manuel Cadag

Spartan & the Green Egg - A Trip to the Rainforest- by Nabila Khashoggi illustrated by Manuel Cadag, is a new graphic novel written for younger readers.  This richly illustrated, larger sized hard cover, full color tale is a hybrid between a graphic novel and picture book, perfect for grade school readers who may be too young for the typical graphic novel genre.  This ambitious piece of work, not only is entertaining-with its simple, traditional cartoon styled art, and dialog bubbles- there is also a moral about environmental awareness as well.

This book may seem like a simple adventure that takes place in the Amazon jungle, but the message is more complex.  There are subtle hints of New Age teaching with the introduction of new age concepts of "Mind Light", in which the children meditate and use their minds to contact ancient, alien entities through telepathy. Furthermore, wisdom is unexpectedly found in primitive simpler cultures such as the Indian tribe from the Amazon.  This primitive culture teaches the young foursome  the importance of sharing, and harmony with nature and the environment.  Wisdom is found with the "Shaman", and in polytheistic, nomadic cultures.

The book promotes social responsibility in caring for the environment as well as the importance of the mind and using one's imagination. Children are introduced the ancient and indigenous cultures and sustainable environmental practices as well.  Specifically, the dangers of deforestation for the purpose of financial gain is portrayed in a simple to understand format. Ironically, the children and the alien entity stop the harmful practice of logging and deforestation through deception- in which the logging corporation is frightened into repentance. The idea that the ends justify the means may not universally accepted by all parents. This might be a contradictory message for some readers- but this type of strategy is consistent with dedicated and radical environmentalists who believe that environmental protection is the goal regardless of the tactic or strategy.  Some adults might find this book to be a little too "preachy" about environmentalism; overall this book is educational and entertaining. It is a great introduction to human ecology, anthropology and the environment for young children in the highly popular graphic novel format.  This book is labeled as "Book 1" implying that there will be more books in this series.  As a blogger I received this book published by Full Cycle for the purpose of writing this review.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity by Alex McFarland

The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity by Alex McFarland is an effective yet simple to read apologetic book.  Written for parents, this book is perfect for anyone who wishes to gain a better understanding about their faith and the bible.  Written in a question and answer format, this book addresses the biggest philosophical and spiritual challenges posed by atheists, agnostics and seekers- effectively and thoroughly.  This is a great apologetic tool for today's generation- much more accessible than CS Lewis, Aquinas or Augustine.  As a blogger I won this book published by Tyndale in an online contest.

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In just minutes you can get a free book, bible or children's book shipped to you at no cost.  With this program there is simply no excuse not to have your own bible! Is it time to retire  or upgrade your old bible?Those of you with tired, old, threadbare bibles and hard to read King James bibles- you NEED a new bible!!!! These days many think nothing of replacing a perfectly good iphone, computer or laptop with an even newer device, but not too many think about the need to upgrade your bible. An Old King James bible is today's equivalent to the rotary telephone.  A plain text old RSV bible or New American Standard is like an old first generation Pentium or even worse, a 486 with a huge heavy 80lb screen. Is your only bible a pink "precious moments" themed bible from when you were a kid? Maybe you are using a marbled covered Gideon bible that you swiped from a hotel. Or a defective New World Translation? And your  first edition NIV- with yellowed dog eared pages is the same as carrying around a first generation iphone with a cracked screen- its time to replace and upgrade. Follow these steps.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

NIV Worship Together Bible

NIV Worship Together Bible is a good, reliable choice for a bible.  It is a worship music themed bible in that the lyrics and chords of some popular worship songs are included within the text and in the back.  Other than that, there isn't much that stands out visually, other than the graphics on the removable dust jacket. Under the dust jacket, the traditional deep blue hardcover resembles a standard pew bible.  This subtle, unassuming bible features the new revised, gender inclusive 2011 NIV bible text.  Mixed throughout the text are the words to some well known contemporary worship songs as well as some background information about the song.  For those unfamiliar with Christian or worship music, these "devotional" passaged will simply seem like random, poetic interludes. 

The text is easy to read, and standard with bold chapter titles. There are no graphics or other visual elements. Nor is this a study bible as it lacks even the basic chapter introductions or maps that even many minimalist bibles have. What isn't standard is the unexpected dark cadet blue font.  The font looks like a shade between dark grey and blue.  Its nondescript shade isn't as bold as a black font and may make some readers question their eyesight- especially older readers with vision problems, or an astigmatism. 

Other than the inclusion of the words to worship music, and chords in the back for popular songs, and other related music material (a short article on music and chords), this is a very minimalist bible.  I might have expected a little more visual appeal for a bible that is marketed towards Christian worship music fans.  In that respect this bible is a little bit of a disappointment.  Nevertheless it is a high quality standard bible that looks sturdy enough to stand up to daily use. Basically this is a pew bible with some music lyrics and chord charts.  Overall, I would neither endorse this bible, not reject it.  I don't have any strong opinions about this bible either way. I feel that this bible gives a minimalist, clean, contemporary feel- nothing to distract the reader from the word of God.  As a blogger I received this bible published by Zondervan for the purpose of writing this review.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

From Death to Life

The Physiology and Spirituality of a Zombie


Decaying, putrefied flesh, dead necrotic tissue, dangling gangrene infested limbs.... glassy, foggy lifeless orbits, devoid of life- a cold, pungent corpse is apparently is re-animated by an unknown force or biological drive.......

The undead, otherwise known as zombies, are everywhere in popular culture: books, television, and movies.  But, you need not go to the theater to see the living dead- they are closer than you realize...... 


The introduction of tainted biological fluid must contaminate the host victim.  Most commonly the initial contamination is introduced by means of a flesh wound such as that which may come from a bite or scratch from a infected individual.  Contamination  rarely occurs in the healthcare setting, but when it does it is usually  inadvertently through a needle stick or contact with bodily fluids during lab testing.  As with any virus or contagious illness, there is a period of incubation in which the victim appears asymptomatic.  Nevertheless, while the person may feel physically healthy on the outside, the contagion works behind the scenes at the cellular level creating havoc in the body's systems.

The very first initial symptom appears to be an elevated temperature as the body attempts to fight off infection. This is reflected in a fever- mild at first. The fever does not respond to medication.  Lymph glands may be swollen and  tender to the touch.  Ironically, though the body gives the appearance of  having a cold or flu, instead of the usual fatigue and lethargy that accompanies the flu, the individual may experience an increase in energy.  The metabolism is elevated as the thyroid works harder to fight the illness. Blood pressure increases as well as the heart rate.  Respiration becomes more rapid. The body's  attempt to thwart the contagion is unsuccessful.   This may give the affected individual an initial burst of energy, deceptively it may appear as if the patient is on the recovery as the metabolism, thyroid and immune system  work in overdrive.  Not long after the early stages of infection, the victim will exhibit symptoms similar to hyperthyroidism.  This will include increased appetite, anxiety, mild aggression, sleeplessness and intolerance to heat.  The mixed set of symptoms that follow the initial fever may mask the extent of internal damage caused by the contagion and often lead to a false diagnosis.

As the contagion   circulates within the bloodstream, all body organs and tissues are eventually affected, from the cellular level to the organ systems.  As the infection spreads, the effect on rapidly dividing cells is the first obvious sign.  Similar to the effects of radiation sickness or chemotherapy  in with the invading contaminant indiscriminately attacks the rapidly regenerating cells: healthy and non healthy alike, the same is true of the contagion. The rapidly dividing cells  of the scalp, mucus membranes and nerves, are the first to succumb to the infection as it begins its indiscriminately attack all cells in a similar way.  Hair will become brittle, thin, dull and some loss of hair will occur. Skin cells will become dry, raw and irritated.  Skin will become irritated, cracked and dry.   Mucus membranes lining the mouth, esophagus and stomach will become irritated, raw and slough off- causing irritation and tenderness  at first, and thereafter extreme gastrointestinal discomfort and bleeding.  As the body systems are affected and subsequently destroyed, pain and fatigue will set in.  Nerves will be affected in a similar fashion as ALS.  As the nerves progressively become damaged and die, loss of function is experienced.  This is first observed as a heightened sensitivity in the form of pain, tingling, involuntary twitches and numbness.  As nerves completely die, there is a loss of feeling altogether.  Yet, as opposed to ALS or traditional paralysis from CNS injury, the dying cells and cell tissue actually physically die- they experience cell death and become necrotic- resulting in furthering the infections.  As the body organs and fluids becomes septic, and the toxicity spreads throughout the body,  the body tissues decay giving the characteristic of the typical sterotypical zombie appearance: mottled necrotic skin that is easily bruised, injured and infected.  Internally, the organs cease to function as the cells become necrotic and  die.  Internal bleeding occurs throughout the body and the old, putrefied, congealed, thick, sludge-like black blood and dead cells is eliminated by the body from every orifice imaginable as wastes.  The slick, putrefied mix of wastes gives the zombie its characteristic decayed odor and disheveled, unclean appearance.

Needless to say, the brain does not escape damage from infection.  Apparently the higher functions of the brain are the first to experience the effects of impairment.  Initially the mental impairment is subtle.  Complete memory loss and purposeful  thought is eventually lost as the brain tissue becomes necrotic and shrinks.  Eventually all intentional and purposeful activity and thought is gone, leaving only a fragment of the functioning hind brain.  Mentally the person's capacity is  analogous to a persistent vegetative state, yet the body is inexplicably  animated and continues to physically function by minimum instinct and nerve impulses similar to that exhibited by lower life forms.  As a result, the individual is automated only by a basic instinct and basic physical sparks of electrical impulses.  Clinically and biologically, the person may be defined as alive simply because the brain is functioning at the most basic level.  Nevertheless, it might be argued that such an individual is legally dead in that  brain death has occurred in that there is no possibility of recovery and there is no purposeful brain activity.  An EKG most likely would reveal a flat line. Obviously putrefaction and contamination of the body's organs renders them useless for the purpose of donation.  The senseless aggression and bestial behavior makes the infected a danger to society, and therefore require containment.  The time line of the progression of the illness varies. 

Spirituality of the Living Dead:

A necrotic, shrunken brain- filled with useless, putrefied nonfunctioning brain matter. A stinking mush of dead cells and puss- incapable of thought whatsoever.  Nerve synapses are dead and destroyed.  The head is simply a shell that houses a walnut sized brain stem- functioning with minimal  activity.  Movement is the product of purposeless reflexes, and synaptic pulses guided by basic instinct.  As far as a mind- anything that resembled a personality is long gone.  Just as the body eventually deteriorates, the mind also disintegrates.  As far as the spirit?  The soul?  That no longer exists either.


An argument can be made that the concept of the living dead is nothing new. In fact there are a number of references to the living dead in the bible. A passage from Ephesians, a new testament book written by Paul, the apostle, states  "As for you, don't you remember how you used to exist? Corpses, dead in life, buried by transgressions, wandering the course of this perverse world.  You were the offspring of the prince of the power of the air- oh, how he owned you, just as he still controls those living in disobedience.  I'm not talking about outsiders alone; we were all guilty of falling headlong for the persuasive passions of this world; we all have had our fill of indulging the flesh and mind, obeying  impulses to follow perverse thoughts motivated by dark powers.  As a result, our natural inclinations led us to be children of wrath, just like the rest of human kind."  Ephesians 2: 1-3 (the Voice NT).


 Zombies- the living dead:  A body, reanimated, disgusting, grotesque and barbaric- alive yet devoid of the essential part that makes it human.  I don't know who hasn't heard of zombies- they are the subject of many horror movies. But to see one of these creatures, there was a time that all I needed to do was look in the mirror. Ironically I was no different from the grotesque manifestations that I would watch in my television screen- I too was among the undead- physically alive, walking, breathing, yet dead in spirit.


ONE FINAL WORD (about Zombies) 

in·ac·ces·si·ble  defined as not accessible, unable to be reached or understood.

An image from my past flashes  across my  mind as I am transported back in time- almost thirty years earlier. I remember tiptoeing and pulling down from the top shelf- a larger sized, dusty, forbidden, neglected volume,  the bible.  Curious, I opened the book and read.

Contrary to the commonly held stereotypes that the bible is too difficult to read and  irrelevant in modern society - the words were clear, easy to grasp and eye opening.  I wondered to myself as to why this book was apparently hidden in the bookshelf, squeezed between other books and out of my reach. I wondered why no one told me about this book, or its message.  It is incredible how many households have a copy of this life changing book, yet it simply collects dust on a book shelf unread.  Countless people, simply dismiss this life changing book with hardened  hearts are hardened, just like the listeners in Jesus’ day whose closed ears and closed hearts could not understand the parables that Jesus shared.  On that day, looking back, I compare myself to the parable of the seed that fell upon the footpath and quickly snatched away by the birds or chocked by thorns and weeds in Matthew 13:4.  The message was lost to me.

That day, I was not saved. That day,  I did not receive the Good News.  I did not learn about eternal life or God's love and grace.   The seeds were quickly snatched away, like the seeds on the hard, barren footpath.   I slowly closed the bible in despair- placing it carefully back on the shelf, feeling dejected.... dismissing it as yet another book filled with fables and fairy tales, returning to my life as usual saying to myself, thinking that if it were true, then certainly someone would have told me about it. 

That was not my day of salvation.  It was not to come for a number of years.  Needless to say, I admit I ended up swiping that bible, and taking it for my own use years later.  And I still have it to this day. 

Yes, it is true, I used to be among the living dead, until the day I was saved


Saved from death
Fast forward a few years to the day when I made an important decision that changed my life. That day started like any other day. It is no understatement to say I had some difficult and awkward years when I was young. .During my teenaged years, my physical and social deficits became more pronounced at a most inopportune time of life when appearance and social skills are paramount for normal positive social interaction. As I matured, my physical appearance embarrassed me to such an extent that I lived in a constant state of abject discomfort and anxiety that someone would tease me. Graceless, indelicate and overgrown, I was isolated and frequently tormented by my peers. I was made fun of, humiliated and embarrassed. While these problems may pale in comparison to the world’s social injustices and inequities, this was my life and my world! It was all that mattered to me at the time in my own selfish, self- centered world.

Outside I was quiet, yet within I was sad, angry, bitter and jealous. Every night I would cry myself to sleep. I could pass half the night awake in bed feeling sorry for myself. In my dreams I lived out detailed fantasies of revenge. I doubted that even God existed because if He really did, I was sure that I had been abandoned by God.

The irony is that despite the anger and jealous feelings I harbored within, I deluded myself into thinking I was morally superior. In fact I believed everyone else had wronged me in my own mind. I was so puffed up with pride about my own goodness when I compared myself with all those other “degenerates” in school that dated, went to dances, listened to music or dressed in the latest trends.  One day my misery came to an end. I vaguely recall a girl who crossed my path and befriended me. We talked, or rather she talked, and I “listened” during lunch hour in the cafeteria. I was actually more engrossed in inhaling my fries and finishing off my burger, than listening to her. She could not have missed my apathy. She dutifully and in a perfunctory manner went over, laboriously page by page, a small booklet of which I barely glanced indifferently. But one statement of all the others stood out: she called me a sinner- as she explained how everyone was a sinner and that no one was righteous in God’s eyes. I immediately took offense. How dare she insinuate that I was a sinner! She did not know who she was speaking to, obviously. Nor could she know about my sufferings and misery. As far as I was concerned I never sinned!
Looking back I remember the parable told by Jesus about how hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, and that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.  A more formidable obstacle comes to mind- pride and self righteousness! How much easier it is for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than a self righteous, stubborn, self pitying young girl  to humble herself spiritually and enter the kingdom of heaven. Yet, it did indeed happen and I was saved!

I tried to put the entire conversation out of my mind. It was no use.  The statement echoed in my soul, “For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory if God”. (Romans 3:23) I pondered in my mind the implications of that statement. What if it was true? What if I was actually separated from God? I lost all track of time. For days and maybe even weeks, I thought feverishly about that message.  Oh how I wished that my comfortable vague ideas about God and heaven had not been challenged. I had grown accustomed to living comfortably within my own world with my self righteous attitude and self pity. I had to humble myself spiritually and admit that I was a sinner.  Despite the hardships of my life, I still was guilty of sin in my actions and most of all my thoughts. My feelings of revenge and anger and envy were sinful! My fictitious fantasies were impure and sinful in God’s eyes. I had to make a choice and I had to make a change. It was a real decision. I decided to accept God’s friendship and gift of grace, admitting that I was guilty of sin. In that moment I had made the decision. There was no turning back. The message of the gospel and of salvation was truly good news. “God demonstrated his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8 For the first time in my life I felt truly happy and hopeful, as if an enormous burden had been cast off. The evil feelings I harbored within were a burden all my life, and it was liberating to release those negative feelings and to have God as my friend.

I still remember how I used to exist, as a corpse, dead in life, buried by my transgressions, wandering the course of this perverse world.  I was the offspring of the prince of the power of the air- oh, how he owned me,  living in disobediance, guilty of falling headlong for the persuasive passions of this world; having had my fill of indulging the flesh and mind, obeying  impulses to follow perverse thoughts motivated by dark powers. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, parts of the character of Beth are autobiographical, except of course the talking lemon.   Ephesians 2: 1-3 (the Voice NT).  I once was dead, but now I am alive, born again- saved. Because I have heard the word of truth- and received  the good news of salvation- and because I have believed in the One who is truth, marked with the Holy Spirit, who is promised as the guarentee, who frees and rescues all who belong to Him.

Seaside Harmony by Evangeline Kelly

Seaside Harmony by Evangeline Kelly is the first of three books in the new Postcard from Misty Harbor Inn series. In this first novel, the reader is introduced to three sisters and their dream of owning a bread and breakfast: Caroline, the oldest sister (aged 61), Sam, the middle sister and Gracie, the youngest (52 years old).  Each of the sisters is vastly different in personality and lifestyle.  Caroline is the oldest, yet is a free spirit, never having had married, spending her life traveling. Yet, despite her age and life experience abroad, she is surprisingly naïve as she had never considered marriage with her life long "friend", George, who she had known for thirty years. Gracie is depicted as a lonely widow, sensible, dependable and devoted to family, who lives life through her grown children and grandchildren. Sam is considered the peacekeeper or mediator between the two sisters.  She divorced shortly after marriage and raised her only daughter as a single mom.  The three sisters  start a new life together in purchasing and renovating an old piece of property and with the goal of transforming it into an Inn in Nantucket.  Each sister has her own personal battles  with eachother as well as their own lives- in addition to the complexities of purchasing an investment property in Nantucket.  There is also a mystery to solve concerning one of the original residents who disappeared from the inn.  The sisters  find themselves lured by local tales of intrigue and speculation which lead them to investigate  into the history of the house.  The old inn is a treasure house of antiques, trinkets and there is even an old antique car and grand piano left behind from the original owners to boot!  The sisters find old artifacts including mysterious postcards hidden within the seams of an old porcelain doll's dress. History buffs, antique collectors and mystery fans will be intrigued by the plot.

Having had read books two and three in the series first, I found that this first book provided valuable insight into the personalities and backgrounds of the three sisters.  The second two novels were faster paced and more action packed.  This novel was a bit slow to start, in fact the sisters don't actually close on the purchase of the inn until two thirds into the book.  Most of the novel is staging the backdrop for the series,  exploring each of the sisters' unique personalities and the emotions involved in investing into an inn.  Many readers will appreciate the emotional and financial considerations each of the sisters faced when facing their own life transitions such as career change, retirement, moving or widowhood. 

Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn is an entertaining, yet wholesome series that is NOT Amish and NOT a  romance novel.  This series earns the designation "Christian" because of the brief yet notable passing references to God, and natural beauty and church.  Nevertheless, even non religious readers will enjoy this book as it is not "preachy".  Evangeline Kelly is actually a pen name for a team of women that authored the new series: Patti Berg, Pam Andrews, Barbara Hanson and Camy Tang.  The writing is enjoyable and  well written-  offensive slang writing and individual eccentricities or opinions do not interfere or detract from the writing as is often case in books authored bymany  modern writers. 

It is refreshing to read a that breaks free from the stereotypical young, beautiful heroine whose life's only mission is to snag a husband.  Social norms are challenged and reworked.  Based on the book market one might conclude that all readers are in their young twenties looking for their first love!  Yet this book series, and its main characters, three middle aged sisters,  will have a wider appeal to include an often overlooked group of readers that is often alienated. Rather than the too often used naïve 19 year old young Amish girl looking to marry for the first time, or the young widowed 24 year old woman in the old West, pursuing a weathered cowboy on a horse, pondering remarriage, this book is not focused on marriage or romance or young beautiful heroines.  In fact the author portrays the three middle aged sisters with respect and dignity, capable of being fashionable, independent and adventurous whereas society all too often confines such demographic groups to the limited the role of a spinster. 

  I happened to win a copy of the book Sunflower Summer through Litfuse publicity,  published by Guideposts publishers. After reading this second book, I just had to read the first!

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Princess Devotions by Karen Whiting

The illustrated My Princess Devotions pre-school edition by Karen Whiting is now offered by the popular "The One Year" devotion book series.  The cover- depicting two friendly bright cartoons of two young princess girls - will draw in the attention of younger girls. This hardcover book, with its kid- friendly size and bright bold colors is the perfect accompaniment to any young girls home décor or book shelf.   Pink pages and pretty graphics add visual appeal to this book for young children to follow as an adult reads.  Each day's devotion is quick, and too the point as well as easy to understand for young minds.  The simplicity of this book is its strong point as the text is short enough to allow even the youngest of children to grasp the meaning.  The problem with many children's devotional books is that they can sometimes be too lengthy, losing the interest of the child for which they are intended. While a wordy devotional passage may capture the approval of the parent, it is often not a good fit for younger readers and what winds up happening is that the parent has to sum up and interpret the passage for the child. 

Overall the colorful pink graphics will keep the young child's eyes on the page long enough for the adult to share the quick message.  What is ambiguous is that the cute little graphics and pink pages are aimed at young readers.  Yet there are only illustrations at the beginning of the month pages.  A few more cartoons within the devotional days themselves would be good to include as well. 

The choices of bible verses are perfectly suited for young listeners.  They are relevant and applicable.  Not only do I feel this book is a perfect introduction to the bible for young girls, it is the perfect parent aid to teaching a child about the bible.  The princess theme is cliché and often overused, but it is popular nonetheless. This book would make a good choice when introducing a young girl to the bible and God.  I would like to see a girls bible or devotional that goes beyond the "princess" theme as the princess theme is too limiting and may alienate other young girls with other interests.  As a blogger for Tyndale I received this book published by Tyndale Kids for the purpose of writing this review.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

John Bevere- the Bait of Satan

John Bevere's book, the Bait of Satan, fulfills two important purposes: firstly it exposes the deadly spiritual impact of offense and secondly, the clarification of divisive biblical doctrines concerning how salvation can be lost as well as the role of spiritual gifts. This book is like an advanced spirituality course for those who are seeking deeper spiritual food and truth.  This book goes way beyond introductory spiritual milk and as the author mentioned- the message of this may in fact be offensive to some readers as it may challenge deep seated biases and misconceptions.

The sensational, eye opening title may sound dramatic, but it is in fact biblically accurate.  The act of becoming offended is not only very common among believers, but it an overlooked sin. It happens in just about everyone's life and in churches too!  When a believer is offended, or harbors a grudge, or is angry at somebody else, this desire can lead to a spiritual separation from God, and God's ultimate plan.

This empowering book not only convicts the reader but offers comfort.  For anyone going through an injustice or grief, or anyone who has ever been hurt, wronged, or harbored feelings of jealousy, envy or revenge this book will sooth your spirit and offer biblical comfort.  Bevere's writing brings to focus an especially powerful and comforting point that "No man, woman, child or devil can ever get you out of the will of God" page 191.  This truth alone, can give the reader the spiritual energy to persevere.  It is powerful enough to quell any pity party, self pity or defeatist attitude. Using the examples from Old Testament heros such as Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, and King David, who refused to take seek revenge or justice in his own hands, Bevere systematically explains how it is biblical that we leave vengeance and justice in God's capable hands.  Not only that, but this important spiritual message relieves a great burden from any weary reader who faces a dilemma of whether to avenge himself even if he feels justified. It is especially comforting to know that God's will cant be thwarted or foiled by other people's actions unless we allow it.  It is empowering to know that even in the worst times when our situation seems hepless, that we do have a choice.

This book raises some important theological issues.  Firstly, the author asserts that salvation may be lost and cites some biblical passages that he believes supports the idea that a believer can possibly lose his salvation.  He refutes the ideas of once saved always saved as well as the validity of the concept if the "sinner's prayer" that many Christians are accustomed.  Secondly, the author accepts without reservation, that all believers can have the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues.  Without going into any background details of this spiritual gift, he simply mentions a brief anecdote that implies that each and every Christian can have the gift of tongues and that the gift of tongues is a proof of having the Holy Spirit.  Bevere makes a distinction between salvation, maintaining salvation and having the Holy Spirit. Thirdly, the book makes an implication that chronic or serious illness such as cancer or diabetes may be in part due to unresolved anger, bitterness or resentment. 

I first read this book when the first edition was published.  This newest anniversary addition includes an extensive devotional supplement as well as endorsements from actual readers who have been helped by this book.  The cover is unassuming and a bit generic; I feel it does not do this life changing book justice.  Additionally, the physical dimensions of this book shrunk to a small scale pocket sized book.  The font is extremely tiny and may be difficult for some older readers to read.  I believe these printing decisions to make this book smaller, were made in an effort to reduce the production costs of the book in order to make it more widely available to more readers.

I recommend this book to all bible believing Christians.  This powerful book challenges the reader to look within himself and to respond based on biblical  truth  when faced with injustice and hurts.   As a blogger for the Booketeria, I received this book published by Charisma House for the purpose of writing this review. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Sisterchicks Devotional: Take Flight by Robin Jones Gunn & Cindy Hannan

A Sisterchicks Devotional: Take Flight by Robin Jones Gunn & Cindy Hannan is a new little book written especially for fans of the Sisterchicks novel series. The talents of two writers: one who tells "God stories" and another who asks "gentle questions" were combined in this group effort to produce a unique and inviting devotional book.  This pleasant new edition to an already saturated genre of Christian devotionals stands apart from other devotional books. With their personalized, friendly writing style, the two authors take on the role of the reader's own "Sisterchicks" - for those unfamiliar with the series of books, it is defined as a "friend who shares the deepest wonders of your heart, loves you like a sister, and provides a reality check when you're being a brat".

This small 138 page book is creatively designed with peaceful blue two tone graphics throughout, pleasant nature themed art and a some photographs throughout.  This inviting book makes the reader want to read it.  There are four themed sections, each containing three  or four devotionals each.  Excerpts from the book series, scripture and even quotes from real life personalities who earn the title of "Sisterchicks" are included as well such as Amy Carmichael and Fanny Crosby and Corrie Ten Boom.  There is even brief space for the reader to write- which isn't nearly enough space but might encourage the reader to keep a journal.

Gunn, author of the Sisterchicks series reflects upon God using personal anecdotes from her own life as a springboard for each topic.  Her happy and fulfilling, and busy life- living in Hawaii, vacations, a beautiful wedding, lots of responsibility and too little time, and a loving daughter with faith- is something not many readers have the fortune to experience.  Nevertheless the author does recognize that some readers may have less than ideal circumstances as she includes an entry based on a difficult time of her life when she had to temporarily live with her parents a few months.  She does acknowledge that the "shipwrecked" time of life doesn't compare with some  other traumatic situations people may face.  Nor does the author reveal much information, which may lead to the reader wanting more information, raising even more questions.  Was it due to a loss of employment or foreclosure ? Or was it a temporary place to live while waiting for a completion of a new custom dream home?   The author needs to be a little more open in order to gain a greater connection with the reader.  Although not the intent, I think that the fact Gunn leaves out the complete story and she mentions that "the details how we became so shipwrecked aren't essential to repeat at this point" page 58 call even more attention to the story behind the story, which may cause a rift in the personal connection she is trying to achieve with the reader. The reader may even feel as the author is holding out and that the personal connection to share intimate and personal details just simply is not there. I am sure most readers won't become too fixated on this point as I have, but as someone who has experienced hardships, I can't help but wonder why Robin Gunn feels as if she can't open up just a bit more.  Overall this is a minor point when considering the scope of this lighthearted and enjoyable devotional.  This devotional can be read once a day for two weeks or in a couple of sittings.  As a blogger I received this book published by Multnomah for the purpose of writing this review.

How the Octopus Got Eight Arms by Yyonne Arroyo

How the Octopus Got Eight Arms by Yyonne Arroyo, illustrated by Carl Wanzung is an imaginative  new children's story.  This full color picture book is reminiscent of a traditional folk tale as it tells the story of how the octopus went from having only two arms to eight arms.  The story is written in rhyme which will capture the attention of young children.  I feel that parents who read this book to their children may be skeptical of a story depicting an interspecies marriage between an octopus and shark, resulting in eight offspring- a mix of 4 sharks and 4 octopi and of a two legged sea creature that has a surgery to artificially implant six more arms. True, this children's story is absolutely nonsensical- but young children won't care about that. I feel that children will find this story entertaining.

This may not be the author's intent, but this book inadvertently depicts a message about popular socio-political topics such as  marriage equality, parenthood and reproduction.   This story may raise questions about reproduction which some parents may not be prepared to answer.   Although this might not be intentional- this book may be seen as promoting marriage equality,  not just the traditional marriage,  with the depiction of interspecies marriage.  On the other hand, this book might be also be perceived as both perpetuating and challenging aspects of the traditional male/ female roles in a marriage. For example, the shark wife cooking in the kitchen, spending the day preparing a meals for her husband and having children shortly after the wedding, reinforces traditional male- female roles. Yet, the octopus father, taking on child care of the eight children shows a modern view of parenthood in which the male shares the role of child rearing.

 The original illustrations- reminiscent of a grade schooler's artwork in crayon- will appeal to very young children. The pictures are colorful, bold, expressive and distorted all at the same time. The unique expressive art depicts a frazzled, passed out octopus dad at the end of the day after caring for his eight kids.  The illustrator captures the emotions of a frightened, blood -shot- eyed octopus, as he is force fed a medicinal green liquid and prepped for surgery in a sterile OR as six "artificial" limbs await nearby on a table. The triumphant, well adjusted eight legged octopus greatly contrasts with the stressed anxious dad in the start of the book.

 One notable discrepancy is that the cartoon styled cover art does not match the interior illustrations.  Based on the cover art, one would expect consistent cartoon illustrations in the interior of the book which is not the case.  The cartoon artwork style depicted on the cover would have been more suitable for use throughout this book for this aquatic tale.  Apparently, the publisher, Outskirts press produced the cover artwork.  The author and illustrator name on the cover is somewhat obscured by the cover font which is difficult read.  The font works well for the bold title but not so much for the smaller sized printing used for the author name. I had to look at the interior copyright text to ensure I had the correct spelling of the author and illustrator.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book from the author for the purpose of writing this review.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Whispers on the Dock by Evangeline Kelly

Whispers on the Dock, by Evangeline Kelly is the newest edition of the newly created fiction series, Postcards From Misty Harbor Inn. The subtitle, "Can Sam's newfound faith help her reach out to a rival?" barely hints at just one of the intriguing subplots of this entertaining and multifaceted novel. With this new series, centering around three sisters and a renovated Inn, the reader will find an entertaining, yet wholesome work of fiction in the Christian genre that is neither Amish nor  a  romance novel.  Evangeline Kelly is actually a pen name for a team of women that authored the new series: Patti Berg, Pam Andrews, Barbara Hanson and Camy Tang.  The writing is enjoyable and professional-  offensive slang writing and individual eccentricities or opinions do not interfere or detract from the writing as is often case in books in many contemporary fiction novels.

It is refreshing to read a book that breaks free from the stereotypical young, beautiful heroine whose life's mission is to snag a husband.  Social norms are challenged and reworked in that adventure and romance is not just for the young heroine. In fact, the eldest sister, Caroline, who is in her late 50s, is preparing for a wedding and house hunting. Just like a young 20 year old, she awaits a surprise honeymoon that her fiancé, George, is secretly planning.  And Sam, the younger 53 year old sister is still considered to be young and youthful.  Many of the strong female characters, themselves, are in their 50s and even older, nevertheless they are portrayed in a flattering feminine light.  Character, age and feminine beauty are not mutually exclusive as one might be led to believe in other novels.   I feel this is empowering for older readers who may better be able to relate to stories featuring more mature characters.  Based on the book market one might conclude that all readers are in their young twenties looking for their first love!  This book series, and its main characters, three middle aged sisters,  will have a wider appeal to include an often overlooked group of readers that is often alienated. Rather than the too often used naïve 19 year old young Amish girl looking to marry for the first time, or the young widowed 24 year old woman in the old West, pursuing a weathered cowboy on a horse, pondering remarriage, this book is not focused on marriage or romance or young beautiful heroines.  In fact the author portrays the three middle aged sisters with respect and dignity, capable of being fashionable, independent and adventurous whereas society all too often confines such demographic groups to the limited the role of a spinster. 

Whispers on the Dock focuses on the three sisters who started a business renovating an old piece of property and transforming it into an Inn in a popular vacation spot. The reader can get a behind the scenes look at the complexities of running and inn, such as booking reservations, landscaping and even plumbing repairs and maintenance.  Each of the sisters' talents and hobbies: gardening, baking, decorating and even history- contribute to the inn's uniqueness and success. As far as the serene setting-  the readers will find themselves caught up in the day to day workings of the Inn, and Nantucket.  Each sister has her own personal battles  and challenges to face while at the same time contributing to making the grand opening of the Inn a success.  The guests at the Inn are just as varied as life itself.  One of the guests is an eccentric and beautiful romance novelist in her 50s researching for her next novel, and another is an intriguing elderly woman in her late 80s who hold important clues to  the inn's mysterious history as well as its hidden passage ways and rooms, formerly known as Montague Manor.  The complex characters are well developed for an omnipotent view of each of the sisters' thoughts and emotions.  This story digs deeper into the local mystery of Hannah Montague's mysterious disappearance in the 1800s and the alleged ghostly hauntings.    The sisters are like giddy young school kids in their enthusiasm to solve the mysteries of the Inn.  In an unexpected ironic twist, the three sisters also learn a mystery about their own mother's involvement in the history of the old inn. The climatic ending is unexpected.

This book can be read independently of the first two books, but as a reader I find that reading the earlier books shed more light into some of the background behind the three sisters and the story behind the decision to start an Inn.  This book, as well as the series,  is an enjoyable escape from the reality  of today's economy of unemployment, home foreclosure, medical illness, healthcare and lost dreams.  For these three sisters, money and failing health are not issues as evident by Caroline's dilemma about spending $20,000 on a wedding. For many readers, opening an inn or bed and breakfast remains an unobtainable dream as many baby boomers and empty nesters find themselves forced to take on grueling jobs as cashiers to make ends meet or find themselves in the midst of facing serious health issues or home foreclosure.   As a blogger, I received this copy of the book through Litfuse publicity,  published by Guideposts publishers for the purpose of writing this review.

Litfuse Publicity: Whispers On the Dock

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Living the Quaker Way by Philip Gulley

Living the Quaker Way: Timeless Wisdom for a Better Life Today by Philip Gulley is a very readable book.  Written in an inviting and personal tone, the author almost convinces the reader to want to live a Quaker-like lifestyle.  This new emerging culture reflected by its own genre of books- where the modern, sophisticated city dweller pillages the simplicity, the cuisine and/ or home décor of a simple or primitive culture- is becoming the fashion today.  We see cookbooks with covers depicting wholesome, innocent, bonnet wearing women and children on buggies and bikes, in an attempt to sell home-cooked themed recipes.  Nostalgic greeting cards in the holiday season depict old fashioned serene scenes and simply dressed old fashioned happy people.  Countless Amish fiction novels depict wholesome innocent young girls with flowers and bonnets.  Even Ikea furniture is a billion dollar business. American society has a fascination with the simple life. 

Gulley's book gives the reader insight into the Quaker lifestyle as well as the Quaker belief system.  Most people have little idea of what a Quaker is or means, even though just about everyone has heard of the Quakers or the Society of Friends.  The author dispels commonly held myths of the Quaker and sorts fact from fiction.  This book is basically like a Quaker 101 introductory class.

It is interesting to note that early on, Philip Gulley makes a distinction between the Quaker lifestyle and Quaker religious belief.  Apparently it is a point of debate among Quakers themselves, of how a Quaker may be defined.  On page 14 he explains that not all Quakers hold the same religious beliefs or experiences in reference to God. "Though our perceptions of the Divine may differ, our mutual commitment to the Quaker way allows us to stand with one another as Friends and friends. It is this Quaker way- the way of simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality- I wish to explore".  This bold statement presents the idea that the religious belief is of minimal importance when living a Quaker lifestyle for this author.  In contrast many Quakers do believe that their bible beliefs and Christian religious beliefs go hand in hand with the lifestyle.  The author's point of view will reach out to a broader base of readers, not just religious readers.  In fact, this author believes that part of the appeal of Quakersism is that it is free from the shackles of organized religion.  Ironically, most Memberships of Quakers are defined in part by their membership, financial ties and religious beliefs.  Nevertheless Gulley chooses not to emphasis the organized religion or theology aspects.  Rather than religion or spiritual beliefs, the scope of this book focuses on lifestyle choices such as simplicity, community, ethics and social responsibility.
To the author's credit, this book packages morals and other ethical values in a non offensive way that is sure to appeal to all readers regardless of religion.  In fact he may even draw in the agnostic or even atheist readers as well- who may be open to a humanitarian, simplified lifestyle.  Not too many readers will be able to find fault with a lifestyle that advocates less dependence on materialism, less waste, more peace and other ethical values.  The biggest appeal is that this lifestyle is within reach for many readers regardless of income and socioeconomic  status as it does not involve buying anything.  If anything it advocates downsizing.  For those who are not so well off financially- this is certainly no problem!  For those who are wealthy, perhaps it might even justify a shopping spree for new, basic themed home furnishings and new neutral clothing, and a tan Coach handbag and shoes as well as some organic foods from a farmer's market. I imagine pack rats and collectors might have the most difficulty with the message of this book as there is a hint that outward clutter and accumulation reflects an inward spiritual disarray or emotional baggage. 

One minor detail that bothered me is the cover.  The cover of the book seemed a bit off center and was not very pleasing in terms of design.  Perhaps that is part of the minimalist effect.

As a blogger I received this book published by Convergent publishers, an imprint of Water Brook Multnomah, for the purpose of writing this review.

Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl by N.D. Wilson

The original retro cover art of the new book, Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide -Eyed Wonder in God's Spoken World by N.D. Wilson, is enough to capture the attention of the reader.  This eclectic book is a hybrid between art, poetry, philosophy and theology.  This eccentric book is fast paced- quickly jumping from analogy to analogy and fast paced images.  This style of written is similar to an ultra modern abstract style of writing.  His style is almost reminiscent of the fiction writer Kurt Vonnegut.

The schizoid disjointed writing, nevertheless has a purpose and a direction- its theme is focused on God's miraculous nature and creation.  For example, the author discusses the miracle of the snowflake- the complexity and beauty of a common, miniscule thing that has no intrinsic or economic value.  In fact Wilson notes that the beautiful snowflake is discarded in heaps- no different than worthless trash.  In fat on the following day after a snowstorm- this same beautiful snow flake is tainted with sludge and dirt and trampled on, much in the same way mankind disregards the beauty of this world as worthless trash.  He invites the reader to consider and think about the commonplace and ordinary and how they are part of God's miraculous plan and creation.  If the writer takes the time to follow through with the book, a world will be opened up- on the importance of appreciating what is around.  In similar, vivid fashion Wilson tackles other heavy theological and philosophy issues in a lighthearted manner as well- such as the problem of evil and death, and  judgment.  Satire and truth fill the pages of this book.  It is really an original work of art- an outreach to draw in readers to the gospel message.  In a saturated Christian book market- this book stands apart.  While this book may not be for everyone- it will speak out to many readers, nonetheless.  For those readers who want an original new book and a fresh new way to ponder the world around - this is the book to read.  As a blogger for Booksneeze I received this book for the putpose of writing this review.

Why I Don't Do Amazon Reviews

Why I Don't Do Amazon Reviews- Amazon Policies:
After an attempt to submit a review this is the message I received.  (see Below) I don't do online shopping and because of this, I am unable to post reviews on Amazon.  Even after contacting customer service I was told that I can't submit a review unless I have a credit card on file indicating a recent charge.
"Want to write a customer review?

To submit a customer review: you need to use an Amazon account that has successfully been charged for the purchase of a physical or digital item. Free digital downloads don't qualify. You don't need to have purchased the product you're reviewing. There's a 48-hour waiting period after your first physical order has been completely shipped, or your digital item has been purchased, before you'll be able to submit your review. Learn more about writing customer reviews.

Who can create customer reviews?
Anyone who has purchased items from All we ask is that you follow a few simple rules (see "What’s not allowed" below).

If your purchase was completed more than 48 hours ago, let us know here. "


Basically, you MUST make a purchase and have a credit card on file indicating a recent purchase.  It doesn't matter if it is dog food, bed sheets, a watch or computer- you had to have made some sort of online purchase from Amazon and a credit card must have indicated recent or past purchase activity as proof. 

If you are an author and contact customer service they probably simply told you the reviewer doesn't need to purchase your book or any book to post a review.  That is PARTIALLY true.  The whole truth to the story is that the reviewer must have a purchase history of some sort to do a review.  Considering so many people do make online purchases with Amazon for other items this is usually not a problem.  Nevertheless this alienates people who don't do online shopping- (not that Amazon cares about nonpaying customers anyway).  Since when does making online purchases of other items give more credibility for a book review?  (I can almost understand limiting reviews to the purchase of the particular item in question).   SO if you an author offering free digital downloads for your book in exchange for a review on Amazon, only book reviewers with a purchase history can post a review.

And no, insisting simply you do not need to buy the book to post a review,  does not change this policy that a purchasing history is required.  Most likely if you probably also bought from Amazon, something and this limitation does not apply to you, nor will customer service tell you about this limitation unless you specifically ask about it or among those living on a strict budget who can't buy things online and find out the hard way that you can't post your review.

Also please note for Amazon reviewers- if the reviewer did not actually purchase the specific book or item he reviews- everyone will know it.  Amazon now has a special icon "Amazon Verified Purchase" in bright orange font to designate authenticated purchases of those who do reviews of a particular book or item they actually paid $$$ for.  The review will only get this icon if the reviewer actually purchased the item he reviewed.  SO basically, any review without this bright orange AMAZON VERIFIED PURCHASE icon loses credibility.  It means that the reviewer got the book for free without compensation and this  is a tell tale sign.  Barnes and Noble does NOT make that distinction.

Barnes & Noble does not have a restriction on writing reviews.  You don't need to have a credit card on file to do a review and it doesn't matter if you have NEVER purchased anything- you can still submit a book review.


Verified Purchase Reviews

What's an "Amazon Verified Purchase" review?

When a product review is marked "Amazon Verified Purchase," it means that the customer who wrote the review purchased the item at Customers can add this label to their review only if we can verify the item being reviewed was purchased at Customers reading an Amazon Verified Purchase review can use this information to help them decide which reviews are most helpful in their purchasing decisions.

The Amazon Verified Review label offers one more way to help gauge the quality and relevance of a product review.

How can I make my review an "Amazon Verified Purchase"?

When you write a new review, you will be given the opportunity to mark your review as an Amazon Verified Purchase. If the checkbox doesn't appear, we were unable to verify you purchased the item at Amazon.

If you wrote a review for an item you purchased at Amazon previously and would like to mark it as an Amazon Verified Purchase, simply edit your existing review and the Amazon Verified Purchase checkbox should appear. After checking the box and saving your review, your review will immediately be marked as an Amazon Verified Purchase. You can also opt to mark all of your past reviews for products purchased at Amazon as Amazon Verified Purchase reviews using the corresponding checkbox during review editing or creation.

65 Promises From God for your Child: Powerful Prayers For Supernatural Results by Mike Shreve

65 Promises From God for your Child: Powerful Prayers For Supernatural Results  by Mike Shreve is a pocket sized manual that teaches the parent about effectively harnessing God's promises for their children.  There are countless sterile, ineffective parenting books written on the subject of childraising  on the market today.  Some books are even marketed as "Christian" parenting books.  But this book goes beyond a parenting how to guide but rather is a life changing book to activate the power of God in your child's life.  In the forward, the author's wife,  Elizabeth Shreve, explains that the bible is in fact the ultimate parenting book.  And regardless of any parenting magazine, book or advise you may read, nothing is more effective or more powerful than the bible itself.  Even in the face of a grim health prognosis, or circumstance- God is powerful and capable of miracles and changes lives- physically and spiritually.  God has in store, a miracle for your family according to the author.  And even if God's promises seem slow in coming to fruition, they are reliable.  In fact as the author points out in the introduction, Noah waited 120 years, Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years and Joseph waited 13 years for their promises (page 9)- even when the situation seemed impossible and hopeless! So regardless of how hopeless or impossible your own family's situation or child's situation seems, nothing is beyond God's power.  It is time for the reader to put aside defeatist attitudes and claim God's promises.

This small scale, pocket sized book seems  deceptively simple on the outside, but so much is packed into its 118 pages.  The cover- with its bold block letters and the silhouette of a mother holding the hand of her young child in of  itself seems ordinary enough that it could get lost in the already saturated market of parenting books.  But this book is different. It contains literal power- that is, if you believe the bible is true and have faith in the power of God's word.  Shreve dug deep into scripture- specifically, the old testament, finding just about every scriptural reference to God's promises  that can be applied to child rearing.

Each topic covers a one to two page spread for 65 themed topics in all.  The college themed block font, as well as the tiny sized text might give the impression that this book is for more seasoned or experienced parents of older children.  Nevertheless, this is not necessarily the case as God's promises for parents and their children are not limited to an age group.  The scripture passages and verses that speak for themselves.  Each theme covers a specific topic, as well as a selected old testament passage. Just about every passage selected is from the old testament with a couple of exceptions. The same format is followed throughout the book- making this easy to use as a daily or even weekly devotional.  A brief commentary follows , and finally a "Prayer Declaration" in which a prayer is available for the parent to pray.  A blank line is left for the parent to fill in with their child's name.  In fact the author encourages the parent to actually write in the name of the child. There are six pages for journaling in the back of the book as well.   Parents with more than one child are encouraged by the author to purchase one book for each individual child. Personally I don't feel this is necessary as this book is printed and marketed as a mass produced paperback.  If the quality of this book was higher, with more open space for trinkets, photos and personal items, and made for scrapbooking and archival purposes then yes- a copy for each child would be appropriate. 

The end of the book contains interesting old testament historical background on prayer! The "Conclusion" chapter provides origins for the basis of this book giving insight into some of the old testament Jewish practices.  for example, the historical background and significance of the mezuzah and phylacteries is explained and actual black and white photos are included. The inclusion of this historical material as well as the journal space makes the book a bit eclectic and broadens the focus.  One thing to keep in mind is that as believers in faith  we should not become too preoccupied with the old covenant practices dictated by Mosaic laws.

I found this book to be a resource to return to each day. and worthwhile to read a second time in order to absorb the material presented by the author, Mike Shreve and also and to meditate on the countless promises God has in store for us- not just for eternity in heaven but on earth right now.  There is so much material in this book- historical as well as a treasure of biblical promises and prayers specific enough for every need for the reader .  Even if one does not believe in literal modern day miracles, this book shows the supernatural power of prayer- and that is not a doctrine that conflicts with any believer.   This is a very empowering book that is certain to encourage even the most apathetic of parents to act.

 As a blogger for the Booketeria I received this book published by Charisma House for the purpose of writing this review.