Thursday, December 31, 2015

The History Major: A Novella by Michael Phillip Cash

With his newest fiction work, The History Major: A Novella Michael Phillip Cash demonstrates his
versatility as an author.  With this psychological piece, it is clear that this talented author is able to entertain his readers across genres beyond horror fiction.  This work is short yet poignant in delivering a message about dreams in which the reader is presented with an eerie reality in which dreams and the subconscious are combined with the supernatural.

Based on a philosophical concept of dreams and their association with the subconscious and its correlation with particular historical events and personalities, Cash develops and expands upon a plausible theory to explain the phenomena experienced by a young college student who finds herself in a distorted alternate reality.

This story weaves elements of authentic historical details to transport the reader across time and space.  Cash actually goes into the mind of historical personalities such as Joan of Arc and Aristotle.  With vivid lifelike description, the reader perceives the thoughts, emotions and sensations of Joan of Arc- a rare experience. The author succeeds in the literary feat of recreating a historical experience from an intimate point of view of a historical personality long gone.  He has a talent for delving deeply into the mindset of historical figures.  Worlds collide as the past and present join. At one point, Amanda, is unsure if she is dead or dreaming as she questions reality and even her very existence. Historical figures represent her own personal conflicts and struggles.  At one point she is face to face with Hitler himself.  At another point in time, she finds herself reunited with her beloved grandmother who had passed away years earlier.  As a reader, I anxiously awaited the resolution- wanting to find out exactly what was going on.  Ironically, Cash leaves the perception of reality up to the reader as he challenges the reader to discover for himself or herself the ultimate truth.  This is a story that will leave me with a lasting impression.  Although I have a Bachelors in History, Cash has portrayed history in a new light, in making historical experiences personal, as a reflection and extension of the subconscious.  For anyone who wants a fast paced story that challenges one to revisit concepts of memory, dreams and their correlation with history, this book is enlightening as well as entertaining.  One thing for sure, next time I pick up a history book- I will be reading history in an entirely new light.

The History Major by Michael Phillip Cash is available on Amazon and Barnes And Noble

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

If You Were Me and Lived In... Italy, by Carole P. Roman's illustrated by Kelsea Wierenga

If You Were Me and Lived In... Italy, is the newest volume in  Carole P. Roman's "A Child's Introduction to Cultures Around The World"  series . The art contained in this newest book about Italy is the most impressive yet. The books in the series keep getting better and the art is full of surprises.

The mixed media cartoon art combined with beautiful
scenic photos bring Italy to life in an entirely new way for young readers.  These books take only minutes to read cover to cover but they will give any child a comprehensive view of the geography and culture of a particular country.  This volume about Italy follows a similar format as the other  books in the series including  Mexico, Hungary, Peru, South Korea,  and France as well as many others. Yet in each successive  edition, the art continues to be more impressive with the  variety of textures and mixed media in producing the illustrations.

When reading about Italy, the photograph of the ancient yet majestic Roman architecture jumps out at the reader, as it serves as the backdrop against an evening sunset, featuring a glowing rainbow of colors.  There is a beautiful areal view of the Vatican. There is a lively spread featuring the famous tourist attraction, the Coliseum. There is an evening view of a football game as well.   The beautiful stone tiles and other authentic  details and textures add appeal and beauty to the simplistic cartoon scenes. In one illustration of a traditional meal, even the slice of meat has a textured pattern.

 The cartoon tour guides will certainly capture the attention of all young readers as well as parents and educators. I believe the "Carlesque" styled mixed media illustrations with the simple line cartoons in her   books are  an unexpected treat.  Mixed media illustrations are very popular and appealing for young readers as evidenced by the popularity of Eric Carle's kids' books.  By combining geography with mixed media- I believe that Roman will generate even greater interest and attention for her educational series. This sets her books apart from cartoon only illustrations.

These stories would also be a good choice for a family that is interested in their ancestry, a family vacation or even appropriate for  children as part of a social studies lesson. The consistency of these geography books makes this series perfect for the school setting. An educator can count on the fact that young children will be introduced to the basics.  The predictability of the book's format will also appeal to younger readers who are familiar with the series.  In each  addition to the series,  the  child will learn about the geography  and will be  introduced to its climate, tourist attractions local foods,  sports and other social norms. Full color, simply drawn cartoon drawings with the unique  texture accents compliment the text.   The pronunciations at the end of the book introduces the child to the native language.

  It would be great to see this series used as part of a grade school geography or social studies curriculum.  It is clear that each book, though simple in design, presents a wealth of information and research.   This book as well as the other books in the series is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. As a blogger I received this books for the purpose of writing this review.

Jesus Is For You Stories of God's Relentless Love By Judah Smith

Jesus Is For You Stories of God's Relentless Love By Judah Smith is a beautiful gift book perfect for giving to a special friend or relative. This small hardcover book features personal stories as well as beautiful photography.  The stories are short- and can be read in under a minute.  But they are perfect for those short on time and will capture the attention of even the most casual browser.  Bible verses as well as selected excepts are highlighted and featured along side soothing, peaceful nature photos and still life.  This is the perfect outreach gift for those unfamiliar with the bible or church. If you are looking for a small but meaningful gift for a special person, friend or acquaintance, this is the perfect opportunity to spread the first seeds of the gospel message.   As a blogger for booklook I received a copy of this book published by Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing this review.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sherri Burgess, Bronner, A Journey to Understanding

I was first introduced to the tragic loss of the Burgess' toddler when it was mentioned briefly in the book, Rick and Bubba's Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage published in 2009.  Since that moment I wanted to know more about the loss of the child that was too painful for words.  Finally, in the new book, written by Sherri Burgess, Bronner, A Journey to Understanding, we learn about the tragic drowning of their toddler and the faith that pulled them through.

 This is a book I will keep within arm's reach on my end table or bedside or bookshelf as it is a poignant and empowering account that can lead others who may have to journey through their own losses.  Even though I experienced my own stillborn baby in 2011, I cannot automatically say I can imagine the loss of a child to drowning.  The loss of a child under any circumstances is a mother's worst fear. No loss is the same, yet the degree of pain  and loss is unimaginable.  It is incredible how Burgess was able to tell her story in light of God's promises in scripture.  It is as if Sherri Burgess used her grief experience to point others toward the light of truth who are also struggling and  experiencing grief,  in order to get to the path to God. I cannot say enough of this book- this special message disseminated from this grieving woman who must certainly been chosen by God to minister to grieving mothers and grieving fathers.  This is a task not just any one can accomplish.  Even if you are a pastor or have a Master of Theology, I believe especially someone who has walked through the footsteps of child loss can effectively minister the message of hope and faith to another grieving parent.  Sherri Burgess' words are inspired and they are truth.  As a modern day spiritual guide and ministry leader, her words have offered comfort and deepened my faith.
 This book is a treasure to read and re-read.  I've already read it once- straight through and now on my second more deeper reading. It is like a flashlight to help those experiencing in the foggy darkness of  deep grief to navigate their way from disbelief, grief and anger towards a greater faith and peace. For anyone experiencing fresh raw grief of a child loss, whether a car accident, a drowning, cancer or exploitation, or for those with old wounds from the untimely death of a beloved child- this is the book to read.  In a time of grief and loss it is hard to glean all applicable scripture needed for comfort.  Not only has the author scoured the bible for God's promises to the bereaved, she has told her painfully honest story letting the reader know she is not alone in her grief.  I wish that every chaplain, Hospice nurse and pastor had access to this book to give to bereaved parents. Not only that I think anyone facing grief or death can find spiritual encouragement from this book.  Sherri Burgess' book is real spiritual food that can sustain the spirit.  It is just as basic to one's spirit is as bread is for the body.  This book is literally a manifestation of  Proverbs 25:11, a word spoken at the right time.  As a blogger for Litfuse publicity, I received a copy of this book published by New Hope Publishers for the purpose of writing this review.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Beginnings: The First Seven Days of the Rest of Your Life by Steve Wiens

Beginnings: The First Seven Days of the Rest of Your Life by Steve Wiens is written like a memoir in order to illustrate the significance of beginnings in one's life. Through the use of personal anecdotes, the reader can relate to the author's drive to find renewed meaning despite a life of stagnation.  The author, a pastor, and father as well as a husband still felt as if something was missing as he reminisced about his childhood and youth. In his own words, he states in the introduction that "This book is about not missing those moments. This book is about leaving the forced march.  This book is about finding hidden beginnings and pursuing the endless adventure of becoming." (Wiens, 2015) He writes in a personal conversational tone that will make the reader feel as if he is having a one on one conversation with Wiens. In the context of the Genesis account of the seven day creation, the author applies these basics to our own lives.  He addresses each day of creation and uniquely applies it to our lives- our own beginnings and purpose.  He weaves a wonderful analogy- a modern day parable that modern readers will understand and be able to apply. He breaths new life to the bible.  New bible readers as well a those familiar with the bible will learn a new perspective on how God's word applies and its relevance on our lives.  He has an uncanny ability to relate any story or circumstance to a spiritual lesson.  For anyone looking for a renewed biblical perspective from the ordinary and mundane, to the tumultuous or tragic- this is the book. As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by NavPress for the purpose of writing this review.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Doctor Who: Royal Blood by Una Mccormack

Doctor Who: Royal Blood by Una Mccormack is another new novel based on  the well known Doctor Who series. Fans of the series will love this newest book. Una Mccormack's fast paced writing style qualifies as literary fiction delving deeply into a well developed plot and three dimensional characters. The intensity of this writing is more than what a reader might expect from a serial book based on a popular television program.

Doctor Who is a popular TV series originally produced in 1963 and has since earned a place in pop culture. Who hasn't heard of the infamous traveling "Tardis"? Anyone familiar with popular media would recognize the "Public call box" as it  travels in space.  The different books in this series are written by different authors- each with their own unique style and twist.

The fast paced narrative jumps grabs the reader at the first paragraph. This series is perfect for young adults and teenagers who follow the new series. The story line of the grail will pull in history fans, Indiana Jones fans as well as science fiction fans too as the characters move across time and space.   The action packed dialogue will keep the attention of all readers as well as his in-depth probing of the individual characters and their thoughts will keep the reader glued to the page for this new adventure. There is satire and humor woven through- as well as plot twists that fans have grown to love.  Fans of the popular TV series will enjoy the common themes of the television show, within this book.  Readers who enjoy  mystery and science fiction fans alike, will also enjoy this book. There is enough authentic graphic scientific description to hold the attention of true Sci fi fans.  The authentic historic elements of traveling back into time will be appreciated by history enthusiasts.  The story is eccentric and combines a number of unusual happenings and events. There are a number of allusions and references that might be missed if the reader isn't paying careful attention. There is some deciphering involved- and a learning curve if you are not familiar with the series.  But even unfamiliar readers will enjoy this book.  If you need a break from the everyday commonplace world of fiction- this is a great choice. This is a well rounded story with a variety of elements. While the TV series is equally enjoyed by adults as well as teens and children alike, this novel  an appropriate book choice for teens as well as adults.

As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Broadway books an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, for the purpose of writing this review.

Precious Moments 5-Minute Bedtime Treasury By Precious Moments Published by Thomas Nelson

For anyone who has grown up with Precious Moments memorabilia, the new Precious Moments 5-Minute Bedtime Treasury By Precious Moments  Published by Thomas Nelson will make a great gift to give for a special child. This full sized, hardcover story book contains beautiful full color art and short bible stories perfect for bedtime.  The classic precious moments art is paired with simple to understand bedtime bible stories.  The stories are short and can be read to a child in just a few minutes.  Unlike lengthy bible story books, these stories are easy to digest for younger children.  This book would be perfect for a new bible story bedtime tradition. Stories are based on the New and Old testament of the bible. This would make a great book to commemorate a special occasion.  The quality of the presentation makes this a book to keep for years to come.   As a blogger for Booklook I received a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.

Friday, December 4, 2015

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible, 2015 Edition Understanding God's Message in the Last Days By John Hagee

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible, 2015 Edition Understanding God's Message in the Last Days By John Hagee  Published by Thomas Nelson is a newly released update of the original.  This hardcover bible features a sleep, modern design.  Yet, after opening this bible I found that I was underwhelmed by the lack of features.  Even though this bible is an updated edition, the interior of the bible text looks old fashioned and somewhat dated. There are minimal graphics except for the "Evidences" articles which are identified by a bold black and white graphic.  The pages feature a traditional font commonly seen in older or vintage bibles.  Nevertheless, the font is dark and easy to read.  In fact, the traditional styled font is easier to read than some of the newer fonts featured in newer bibles. Jesus' words are featured with a red letter font.  The sentence format is not in a paragraph format, but rather a line by line format like a traditional King James bible format.  Overall many modern readers may find this bible formatting style too antiquated and not reader friendly.  Because of the format style which is not conducive to bible study, I would not recommend this bible. Although there are some good articles featured, they do not justify purchasing this bible when considering all the other study bible on the market.  I suspect that this bible may fill a niche market with John Hagee fans.  Otherwise, I would definitely pass this bible up if I was in the market for a new bible. I am not sure how a $39.99 retail price could ever be justified for this plain text bible.  The presentation of this bible does not do the "John Hagee" name any justice.  I would have expected a new revision to include a more up to date interior rather than just a reprint of what was probably the 1977 original.  I don't think too much has changed from the original, aesthetically. Instead this bible seems to have been hastily put together. As a blogger for Booklook I received a copy of this bible for the purpose of writing this review.