Thursday, February 28, 2019

Cory and the Seventh Story by Brian McLaren and Gareth Higgins

This is a children's book with a heavy-handed dose of morality. I suppose all children's books are like that.

Cory is a racoon who lives near a forest with other forest animals. Everything is going well until a couple animals begin fighting. Then it turns into who's the boss which leads to wanting revenge followed by the cowards running away.

Pretty soon a new form of identity prejudice takes place giving in to hopelessness until finally we have the "super evil" form of capitalism: creating demand for some idiotic shiny thing and then taking pride in how many idiotic shiny things one has.

When those six stories are told. There is a group that wants to get away from it all and they are greeted by a horse that tells a seventh story.

A better story than what has taken place.

I found it to be an okay reading experience. The illustrations by Heather Lynn Harris were terrific. The narrative is certainly agenda-driven. The agenda of Brian McLaren who advoates for a "new Christianity" that promotes working with people of all faiths for the common good.

On the other hand I would compare this book to the kind of religious movies that feel more preachy than creative in how they tell the story and make their point.

This book was provided for review, at no cost.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Wiersbe Study Bible

This is a Bible meant to be read at a table.

Warren Wiersbe served as the General Editor for this edition. He might be best known for his "Be Series"of Bible commentaries. He has taken some of his ideas and incorporated them into this study Bible using The New King James Version.

This is a desktop-sized Bible. It is designed to lay flat as you open it.
The print is larger than normal so it is very easy on the eyes. Words of Jesus are in red.

Inside you will find Wiersbe's introduction to each book. He provides a basic outline with key themes and verses for you to focus in on. He offers practical lessons in his book overviews.

As a study Bible, this version is full of notes: Catalysts are longer than your typical study notes and they are meant to motivate you to be transformed by what you're reading. The study notes run in at about 10,000 from Dr. Wiersbe explaining meaning and application.

You'll also find your cross referencing and concordance, which is nice.

Finally, in addition to the common maps section at the end, you'll find an index of preaching outlines.
This was interesting and confusing for me. I read outlines and thought I would be reading Wiersbe's point-by-point sermon outlines. But it looks like it's simply the sermon title with the section of Scripture to be used. It is still interesting to see how he organized a preaching schedule.

This is a terrific Bible to read in study. I have a number of different versions so this is going on the shelf along with the others and will be used as one more point of view.

This Bible was provided for review, at no cost, by Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Line Between by Tosca Lee

It's the end of the world as we know it and the cult leaders were right!

Tosca Lee sets off on an accelerated ride through the breakdown of American society but she does it through the eyes of a former cultist.

Wynter Roth, along with her mother, joined The New Earth community. Through flash-back chapters you'll learn more of that backstory and why she's out in the real world - which happens to be coming loose at the seems.

This is an interesting approach to the apocalyptic genre - driving stolen, abandoned vehicles, avoiding shady-looking garage clerks, finding hideouts; all while delivering a possible cure?

Is this going to be like The Walking Dead with big surprises? Will there be an easy cop-out ending?
This book delivers!

I thought Lee did a good job keeping the characters interesting and growing on us while they journey through the not-so-quite wasteland. Wynter's experiences after being in an exclusive and her reactions to life outside, even when they are going nuts, was a nice twist to read.

I wasn't thrilled with the constant use of bad language. I treat stuff like that as I do sex in entertainment: do we really need to see/read it? Does it truly add anything to the story/experience by including it?

Perhaps for some it makes it more realistic? But I guess I'm not one of those people.

I thought the book had a great pace. I didn't get bored reading about Wynter and, when she meets him, Chase as they drove west together. It could have gotten really slow at those points but Lee kept the tension and pace flowing.

This book was provided, at no cost, by Howard Books.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Decoding Your Dreams by Jennifer LeClaire

Almost everyone has them and they are typically entertaining.

What are we to do with our dreams? Jennifer LeClaire writes that we should pay attention to our dreams because God uses dreams to speak to us.

This book is an interesting introduction to dream interpretation. LeClaire divides the chapters walking us through how God used dreams in the Bible and then some of the more common elements found in dreams today.

I will admit that I have had some doozie dreams in my life but I wouldn't say I'd attribute the message to God.

The human brain is such a grand and mysterious thing. How it operates while we sleep is the topic of multiple books and papers.

I'd say you could read this book if you are even remotely interested in trying to understand your dreams but don't hold this has the concrete absolute answer to your dream questions.

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

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

God in My Head by Joshua Steven Grisetti

Joshua had had enough of the many book about meeting God in near death experiences. He decided to share his own experience with meeting God. The catch is, he's agnostic.

If nothing else, I feel really about for Joshua in that he is not affected by Novocaine or or those other numbing agents used by dentists. That experience had to have just been beyond excruciating.

It is while he is heavily medicated and preparing for a cavity filling that Joshua meets with God and they have a long conversation.

This book is part of his sharing what they talked about.

He repeatedly reminds the reader that this experience occurred while his brain is totally baked. So did this really happen or is it merely his subconscious unpacking a belief system he grew up with? Maybe it's God using the current condition of his mind to speak to him.

In any case, Mr. Grisetti has a very strong talent is telling a story. His ability draws you in with his wit and it seems like he could be sitting in the same room with you as he repeats the story.

Sadly, I was strongly put off by the amount of language used. That may make me a prude - and I'm okay with that.

Then there's the whole "this is what God said" portion. It is really quite something.

I understand that there are elements of Joshua's past that can play a role - including having a Southern Baptist preacher for a father. And then, upon completion of reading this book, I had the feeling that Grisetti and Eckhart Tolle would get along splendidly. They seemed to believe along the same lines on spiritual/God/humanity.

Fundamentalist Christians will not enjoy this book at all. They will cry heresy and "of the devil" all while reading it.

I found some of his experience to be unique but all in all, I don't agree with 99% of what the god in his head shared. I don't think Jesus' mother was raped, I don't believe God and Satan are the same thing, I don't believe Jesus was merely a host for God, nor do I believe that there are multiple paths to reach God.

This book was provided for review at no cost.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Dawn Through The Shadows by Linda Anne Smith

When is a sequel more like a prequel but a stand-alone novel nonetheless? When it's Linda Smith's Dawn Through the Shadows.

There's a cult behind these stories and in this novel, you'll dive into the back story of a certain Andrew Covick and his first exposure with the Proclaimers of Christ.

Everything seems on the up and up at first glance. The people involved with this church are the standard-bearers of model citizens. Who wouldn't want to be part of this kind of peer community?

Does it become mentally fuzzy for him when aspects begin to appear dictator-ish? Will a daring rescue/intervention need to take place?

This book was entertaining. I had not ready the earlier novel, Terrifying Freedom so this was read with brand new eyes.

The writing was engaging. Smith does a good job with the character interactions and growth. Andrew's arc was keeping me locked in page after page.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by Linda Anne Smith.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Book of Revelation translated by Michael Straus Illustrations by Jennifer May Reiland

I have no idea what I was supposed to do with this little booklet.

It's a new translation of the last book of the Bible with graphic illustrations.

I did not enjoy this thing at all. The images put me off and I just wasn't going to finish it.

This sort of book is meant for someone but that someone is not like me.

The pages are thick and the print is very easy to read.

I just don't get it.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by I don't even know.