Monday, October 8, 2018

Rise of the Mystics by Ted Dekker

This book will sit with you long after you finish it. You absolutely have to read The 49th Mystic before reading Rise of the Mystics however Rise is a much better book.

While The 49th Mystic felt like a re-telling of many of Dekker's previous novels, Rise of the Mystics felt more like a returning to the worlds. Instead of recreating scenarios or scenes, you read about the world that felt familiar - the Circle, the Horde, the Roush and Shataiki.

I really really enjoyed reading this story. I only had two moments of complaints: first was when the story would be put on hold so a character could preach Ted's new outlook on faith. It felt like the story was put down so the author could insert passages from his Forgotten Way material throughout. I wasn't a big fan of that. I am more of a fan in the way Ted used to include his thoughts/outlook within the plot-line of the story and not simply have a character monologue.

The second moment was the ending. It felt like Ted has embraced Universalism in that everyone will be saved in the end. And everyone who disagrees are poor unfortunate blind souls. (Which may be true I suppose)

With those two things out of the way, we can turn to everything else that was pure joy-reading. The tension between the two worlds and the unexpected twists were fantastic! When lives were lost I really felt it deep in my bones. This was a good mesh of Dekker's writing style from The Circle Series and his writing style in the AD series.

Rachelle's journey was an enjoyable one to follow. I thought I even caught a hint of a possible future sequel with the Horde girl...hmmm...

Oh one more part that was confusing: I thought Ba'al was Billos/Bill/Billy? Now it's Paulus?

It would be great if we could have a detailed timeline for this entire saga of The Books of History.

Thank you, Ted, for pouring yourself into these books.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Boundaries for Your Soul by Alison Cook and Kimberly Miller

A book that looks to turn your overwhelming thoughts and feelings into your greatest allies.

Cook and Miller have created an enjoyable read that covers topics such as: know what to do when you feel overwhelmed; understand your guilt, anxiety, sadness, and fear; welcome God into the troubling parts of your soul; and move from doubt and conflict to confidence and peace.

The anecdotes are down to earth. The exercises and quizzes add just enough practicality to the deeper ideas.

The book is broken down into three parts. The first part is more like an introduction to the concept of the soul and how that effects you as a person.

Part two covers the five steps you take in order to makes thoughts and feelings your allies. They include: focus, befriend, invite, unburden, and integrate. They dive deep into these concepts to help you actually do it.

Part three covers specific emotions: anger, anxiety, sadness, envy, and guilt.

This is a great book to read through and participate in as you work through the exercises and apply the anecdotes.

This book was provided, at no cost, by Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Batman: The Court of Owls Saga

This graphic novel tells the story of a secret society who works in the bowels of Gotham City.

It becomes a detective story of Batman getting pulled deeper into conspiracy theories.

This started out as a great Batman story. There is a fun twist right from the very get-go.

I liked the artwork done with this new direction of the Batman comics. I liked how it had almost everything you've come to expect from a Batman story: Batman uses his intelligence, he proves to be a great detective, he uses his physicality and demands to do things alone.

This is what many have come to expect from a Batman comic.

It's enjoyable to watch Batman dig deeper into a supposed secret Gotham group that has always been beneath the surface and he not knowing. It's fun to figure out what is going on behind the scenes.

But then things get really weird. It was almost as if someone else took over the writing and plotting. Batman gets a bit too close for comfort to the Owls and, while in a maze, basically loses his mind maybe?

I don't know. It just went really weird near the end of the novel.

I liked the build up, I liked the characters and the writing...all of it up until the last few pages of the story.

This book was provided, at no cost, by DC Comics.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Paul: A Biography by N.T. Wright

What more can you say if you've read anything by N.T. Wright? This is one of his greatest reads.

Sometimes Wright's books can be, shall we say, simply storage containers for the over-used comma "," but this stuff - boy - is just incredible to digest.

We're talking more than forty years worth of scholarly work on the person of Paul that is presented here.

Wright will transport you into Paul's world and into the thinking and culture of the time. He will give you fuller appreciation for his societal status and his passion/drive.

All that being said - if you have read ANYTHING else that Wright has written about Paul, much of the content of this book may sound familiar.

Say what you want to about N.T. Wright, but this man knows how to pull you in; and with a speculative biography!!

Here's the goldmine of the book: when you get into the sections that talk about the Paul behind the letters. That is where this book really shines. Sure it's fun to imagine what Paul's life was like in a biographical sort of way, but when you take that and put it behind the words of 2 Corinthians and some of the other letters, it makes it pop all the more.

This is such a terrific N.T. Wright book.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

When Through Deep Waters by Rachelle Dekker

This books covers a number of genres and it's done very well.

Alicen is living the so-called dream in California until horrific tragedy destroys everything. She then travels to her old stomping grounds and meets up with a childhood friend. But then the twists start happening as she begins to hear "things" and you start to wonder, "what in the world is going on with this poor girl?"

Dekker does a great job keeping you guessing throughout the story. She ramps up the tension in that the last fifteen to twenty percent of the book could be called a throw-down thriller.

Her ability to evoke such emotion for Alicen is phenomenal. The anxiety and the grief, the withdrawal into depression. The ability to get your heart racing with words is the true mark of this author. Let alone when writing about emotions and feelings inside a person's head.

Then the voice start, right?

This is a great book for Rachelle Dekker because it shows the readers that she can step out from her father's shadow. Her first trilogy felt like her dad had a hand in the story. That's okay, I guess, for someone's first outing but this book shouts out loud, "I can do this on my own!" And it's a great work.

The emotion is felt, the anxiety of not knowing what exactly is going to happen, the thrilling aspects toward the end make this a great book to read.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by Tyndale House Publishing.

Monday, May 7, 2018

I'd Like You More If You Were More Like Me by John Ortberg

Doesn't everyone have this feeling at least once in every relationship? Yes we enjoy the differences but we secretly want things to be our way.

John Ortberg has written a terrific book about dealing with our intimacy issues. And we're not necessarily talking about that kind of intimacy.

This books is used to answer a number of what if questions. And they all fit inside 14 sharply written chapters.

I enjoyed reading through the idea of if relationships with flesh and blood people are so difficult, why do we think a relationship with an invisible God would be any less difficult?

I enjoy Ortberg's writing style. It is very comfortable and well informed.

You'll learn to avoid relationship pitfalls, how to make God an active part of your everyday life, and how to recognized connection points.

This is a good book to read on relationships.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by Tyndale Publishing.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The 49th Mystic by Ted Dekker

Ted Dekker returns to the world of The Circle series he created fifteen-some years ago.

In The 49th Mystic we find a girl named Rachelle, same name as Ted's daughter - I feel kinda bad for his other children left out, who will become this titled character.

Just like in the novels Black, Red, White, and Green, two worlds are accessed through dreams. While there are cameos of familiar Circle characters, Ted has said that this book along with its sequel are stand-alone novels.

Rachelle lives in a secluded community that abides by the Law of God under the guidance of the community leader. God has rules and followers of God must live by those rules.

Then the villain shows up, calls into question their way of life and the community is thrown into chaos. If this was your first time reading a Dekker book, you'd wonder if this was actually the hero because you'd swear there was some truth mixed in with what he's saying.

If you have read Dekker's Books of History Chronicles, this book will feel very familiar. You have the dreaming of two worlds through books and blood, you have the villain showing up in a town and creating havok with the townspeople where one young person is to figure it all out and put a stop to it.

You have the questions of "what is real and what is fabricated?"

It all feels very familiar.

Ted has said that this is the culmination of everything he has written. I can go with that, sure. But as I was reading through The 49th Mystic, I kept thinking, "this is like Showdown", "this part is like Sinner", "this is like that part in The Priest's Graveyard", "this part is like Skin".

Rachelle now has quests in both worlds. What happens in one directly affects what happens in the other. The stakes are high and the consequences are dire.

There are a number of shocking deaths.

It is clear by now that Ted has had a spiritual experience that he wants to share with as many people as he possibly can. I have discovered, when novelists have a similar experience, their books are preachy than plot.

There is a character in Other Earth who is a kind of sage for Rachelle. He is used to preach Ted's new philosophy of our relationship with God. There are pages and pages of him preaching this new way of thinking to Rachelle (and us). I don't remember Dekker's writing anything like this until his A.D. 30 & 33 books.

I really enjoy Ted Dekker books. I have every novel that he's written. Here lately, I've not been able to connect or enjoy them as I once used to.

So it must just be me because these newer books are impacting a great number of readers.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by Revell Publishing.