Tuesday, September 19, 2017

NIV Kids' Visual Study Bible

My eight-year old cannot quit looking at this Bible.

With over 700 full-color images, information, and articles, there are so many things to grab the attention of your young kid.

It is the full NIV text of the Bible. Even though it says "Kids'" on the title, the text is not watered down to a toddler's reading level.

I think it is meant for children aged 8-12. As I said there added enough side-bar content to capture the wavering eye and reengage them with what they're reading.

I am very impressed with this and would encourage parents to take a look at this for their son or daughter.

The study aspect comes into play by having those sidebars chock full of insight and contextualizing some of the words and themes that a kid might not fully grasp with NIV terminology.

Great version for the age-group intended.

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

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz

I remember when Dean Koontz said he wasn't a fan of writing books in a series.

That seems to have gone out the window ever since he dove into the Odd Thomas affair.

The Silent Corner begins a new series with a female lead.

Without giving much of anything away as far as plot, this book is bizarre. I know that's not some mind-blowing revelation about a Koontz book but, seriously, I kept shaking my head as I read this because it was just so odd.

The story is quite taunt. It keeps you guessing and going and wondering, "what in the world is going on"

Dean Koontz does some fantastic work and this one absolutely stacks up with some of his better offerings.

Here's the kicker: even though some of the technology used in this book is a bit out there...it is absolutely conceivable that we will see some variations in the very near future -  if it isn't already out there.

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

41 Will Come by Chuck Tate

A book revolving around the clever insight of the 40 Day church craze. You've probably seen or heard about the multiple 40 Days of whatever topic: purpose, prayer, fasting, etc...

Church Tate takes that idea to the next level and asks, "What happens on day 41?"

I love this idea. There's always the next day to look forward to. After the 40 days of whatever was going on in the biblical stories, and with your own 40 days, there will always come a day 41 and that is cause for excitement.

This is one of those Don't-Give-Up books but it is so cleverly done that you can't help but be excited about what you read.

If you're any kind of reader of the Bible, you'll probably find yourself thinking, "Oh yeah! That's true. I've never really thought about that!" while you go through Tate's book.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and encourage anyone to read it and be encouraged!

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

What Happens After You Die by Randy Frazee

Pastor Randy has a way of making you feel comfortable in his writing. I noticed this when we went through his Story curriculum; the way he speaks in that video series is the same way he writes in this book.

It's very comforting. And that helps when reading about these topics of death and after death.

Randy does a great job at summarizing the basic Evangelical understandings of what the Bible says about death and what happens to us after that event.

He uses the story of Lazarus and the rich man quite a bit and sometimes people may beg to differ on Pastor Randy's interpretation of how literal that story is meant to be taken, but all in all this book will bring comfort to people.

I just can't get over how comfortable this book made me feel. It was like Pastor Randy was sitting with me, having a conversation. It's clear, it's easy to understand - he doesn't use big, scary, old churchy words - It's something you can read a chapter at a time and really come away nodding your head and thinking, "my God is good".

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

Every Deadly Kiss by Steven James

**Potential Spoilers to the book below**

I think I have reached the saturation point with Steven James and his Bower's Files series.

I really enjoy the writing quality and storytelling abilities of Steven James. He can take so many threads and create an engaging tale. I have enjoyed basically every Bowers book.

But I think, with this latest prequel, I have come to find that the books read too similar.

At this point I get that there is a serial killer who does horrific things. I get that Patrick Bowers is going to get beat up/injured/placed in life or death situations. Every time.

**Spoilers**

I also know that there will be a kind of twisty reveal at the end and it now entails a plant. (You'd think, at this point the FBI would put out a mole hunt with how many plants there are)

I guess I understand that this series is a series of a brilliant FBI agent called in to hunt down serial killers. I understand that there is always going to be some kind of relational hardship to work through.

And, believe me, James is fantastic at writing through the thoughts and inner workings of the relationship content. He is fabulous and getting you to think about some heavy hitting topics while reading a summer beach thriller.

But I think I've come to the point where it all feels formulaic now.

One other point of concern for me is the inclusion of cussing from the characters now. I don't think James ever had his characters say the things they said in this latest installment.

And this is another question I have for writers: the defense I hear in favor of using coarse language is that it's true to the characters. I understand that point. But if your characters haven't talked like that in over how many books, why is it true to their character to have them start now? And if this is a prequel, why didn't they continue to talk that way from the beginning?

I really REALLY like Steven James books. I consume his stories.(I finished this book in one day) I think I need to take a break, though.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by Berkley Press.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Mediterranean Love Plan by Stephen and Misty Arterburn

Who needs more so-called secrets to enhance your marriage?

Sometimes I read these books just to see how they repackage the same message found in every other modern love-help book.

This couple has experienced the wonders of European love and decided to share it with the rest of us in seven simple "secrets".

The secrets are attunement, playfulness, savoring food, enjoying beauty, creativity, health and longevity and blending sacred and sexual.

This book is part travel through the countries, part personal experience, and part advice-giving. But like I wrote earlier, most of these secrets are simply repackaged ideas you'd find in every other love book.

For example, you'll find advice to get in tune with each other, fully engage with what your spouse enjoys, do things together like cooking, go on a hike and enjoy the wonders of creation, and how to have godly sexual passion. (I'll let you read that part on your own to see how they unpack that secret)

This isn't a bad read. They clearly want to add their voices to the mix. The advice isn't bad. It can be fun to read how other couples try out new things and attempt to apply it to your own situation.

But I'm just not a fan of so many "here's how to FINALLY have a wonderful marriage" as if the other hundreds of books don't promise the same thing. And maybe that's the problem. These books aren't breaking through which is why there are so many of them out there.

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

Monday, July 3, 2017

As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson

What would you do if you had access to 49 sermons given by a man who has made an impact to untold numbers of people?

Peterson graciously gives us the text of some of his messages and they go a long way in helping us understand his comprehension of what a pastor should do and how a pastor should be.

Poetic and grounded.

The world is starving for a spirituality and this collection is a deep provision to that hunger.

How should people living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ? This was the driving question toward life change for Pastor Peterson. His words reveal his unpacking the answer and they are greatly appreciated.

Take note that some of the sermons have been edited but they still fit the overall theme of the book.

This is a great read for anyone feeling the separation between, "What I say/hear and what I do."

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