Monday, December 7

Search for God and Guinness

The Search for God and Guinness
When I think of a book about historical events I usually think President’s, war, and scientific discoveries. I don’t think of beer. However, that is what part of Stephen Mansfield’s The Search for God and Guinness is all about. Still, it’s not just about beer. Written by the same author as The Faith of George W. Bush and The Faith of Barak Obama.
Thus, you don’t just learn about the beer, you learn about the Guinness family. As it turns out, they were deeply spiritual. It is a story of faith and, as Mansfield writes, you can see just how deeply spiritual the Guinness family was.
In all honesty, I expected a pretty boring book. I received it through Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Bloggers program just so I could have another title to read while waiting for an updated list to chose from. However, the book ended up being more interesting that I would’ve thought. Throughout the book, the reader is treated to several of Guinness’s ideals, such as always keeping in mind future generations and that it is important to know the facts before acting upon something. These are both ideas which still ring true today.
I did find though, that the book felt slow. The chapters were unnecessarily long, and felt as if they dragged on for quite a while. There’s some interesting stuff in there which might interest those truly interested in learning more about Guinness, but for the casual reader, they may feel tired and bored at the end of it.
I wouldn’t recommend for a casual read, but if you’re truly interested in learning about Arthur Guinness and his legacy, it might be worth your time to check it out.
3/5 stars
I receive no monetary compensation for review this book for Thomas Nelson and am not obligated to write a positive or negative review.

Tuesday, September 29

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

A Million Mile in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
Donald Miller is back! Yes! Long have I been anticipating his latest book (I actually didn’t even know he had a new one coming out until I checked Thomas Nelson’s web page and saw it). Needless to say, I have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated Blue Like Jazz, Searching For God Knows What, and To Own a Dragon. I will be up front and honest: if you do not like Donald Miller’s books, you will not like this one.

However, if you like it, or are new to Miller, this book is a treat. For one, you learn a bit about the process of turning Blue Like Jazz into a movie, and the cycle of adapting the story for screenplay. Miller writes with his trademark style of wit and thoughtfulness. He even has one of cartoons in here as well. You even learn a bit more about his father, a theme heavily explored in To Own a Dragon.

The main theme is this book is Story, and I would say Miller captures it quite wonderfully. I would like to consider myself a storyteller, and after reading this book I feel that I have an even better grasp of it.

If you are a Miller fan, I recommend this. If you are a storyteller, I would recommend this.
5/5 stars

Tuesday, September 22

Green by Ted Dekker


The very first book I ever read by Ted Dekker was “Three.” After that I was hooked and I rushed to the library to read every Ted Dekker book available. When a new book came out I would hurry to find it. Though some of his books have disappointed me (“Skin” and “Showdown”) I loved his Circle Trilogy, “Black,” “Red,” and “White.” Only now the trilogy has a fourth book: Green.
In short: Green is not as good as the trilogy, though hard core Dekker fans will love it.

In long: I’m a Dekker fan, but as stated about, I don’t like all of his work. Green had its moments. The writing was overall strong and I love the metaphors and themes that come with the Circle series and how well they were thought through. That said, I didn’t like the project showdown series, and references and characters from that bogged it down for me.

Tuesday, September 8

Fearless - Max Lucado

I have never read a Max Lucado book before.

Well, at least that I remember. I may have heard/read of his children’s books, but none come to mind. Fearless was my introduction to Max Lucado.

Overall, I liked this book. Lucado is a strong writer and uses examples that really connect. One of my favorite chapters in this book was the one on worry. Lucado did an excellent job in presenting different situations of worry. In reading it, it seemed as if he really knows how to connect with his readers, to understand them and to write for them.

Saturday, August 29

Let Go -- Sheila Walsh

Oh, how to begin?

First I’d like to clarify: This was not a terrible book; I just didn’t care for it much.
When I ordered it, I neglected to look at the subtitle: “Live Free of the Burdens all Women Know.” Whoops. Being a guy, I would not have ordered this book had I realized this. This was confirmed while reading it, because I was not the target audience at all! So, even though I didn’t connect with it, if you a women (or like this type of book) and you are going through struggle in life, this book may be of comfort you. I will attempt to explain my thoughts on different parts, and hopefully you will be able to judge whether this is the book to help you.
The book is not terribly written. Sentence structure is very readable, and Sheila Walsh is clear in the points she makes. In many of her chapters, she includes short anecdotes. A few of these I found extremely funny (they are intentionally funny) and some of them I found thoughtful. They helped me get through the book easier. After each story, comes Walsh’s thoughts, and then come questions for contemplation and a brief prayer. Through this, you can choose how deep you wish delve into each chapter. If a certain chapter is more impactful, you can take the extra time to contemplate the questions, or you can ignore them if you don’t like them.
However, if all of her chapters, there is nothing new. There is no new revelation that could help people. Everything I read, I am sure that you could find it in similar titles at a bookstore. Chapters include topics such as forgiveness, looking to the future, temptation, and hope. It is largely unoriginal. This is not to say you can’t learn from it, but don’t expect huge life changing revelations.
Ultimately, if you are a fan of Sheila Walsh, you will probably enjoy this book, or at least find it interesting.
2/5 stars.

Saturday, July 11

Notes from the Tilt a Whirl

N.D. Wilson’s Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl is a strange book.
I can’t really think of any way to describe it. Indeed, it resembles a tilt-a-whirl…when the ride is finished, you’re so dizzy, you aren’t even sure of what you just read, let alone if it made any sense.
There were many small bits of the book which I did like. The writing style is different than much of what I have read in the past. At points I truly enjoyed the artistry of the writing. Often times he uses strange metaphors and similes, some which were wonderful, and some which I plain didn’t get.
Throughout the whole book, Wilson writes stream of consciousness, jumping through thoughts rather quickly. Many times I felt myself lost in the images he was trying to create. Those who enjoy this style of writing will likely find it pleasant. Those who don’t may find snatches they connect with, but for the most part they will sit scratching their heads, wondering what in the world they are reading. I’m the latter.
Here’s my interpretation: At times Wilson seems to be making an argument for creation. However, I soon realized it was more than that. He isn’t arguing. Merely, he attempts to weave together a picture of a God that no one can fully understand. A God powerful enough to form a universe, and caring enough to offer his creation a chance at redemption.
However, for me it didn’t work. I didn’t always connect in the way I felt that I was supposed to. The words felt distant to me, because it hard following these thoughts. For all I know that quick summary is completely wrong. But if you pick up the book, I’ll let you be the judge. Perhaps you’ll see something I didn’t.
This book was reviewed for Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Bloggers.
2/5 stars

Monday, April 27

The Noticer

How does one sum up The Noticer, for it is a story of life: life’s tragedies, hopes, and remedies.
Plot-wise, it is a story of a man named Jones, who goes about offering a little of what he calls, ‘perspecitive.’ He mostly stays out of sight, noticing things about people. Small things. And sometimes he comes out and lets the people know his observations. They are always helpful, and prod the people to think about their actions in ways they never thought of, never noticed before.
Andy Andrews has crafted an intriguing little book. It’s a quick read, at only a little longer than 150 pages. Still, it is a gripping tale. He has a way of writing fiction that really stirs the mind. Some of the ideas and themes I read in The Noticer, I have heard before. However, I haven’t heard them like this. There is something different than hearing someone dryly talking about the same issues as presented in the book. So tightly woven is the story and characters, that the themes are allowed to resonate with readers, allowing them to truly take to heart and ponder the message. This isn’t a book you can read expecting to be entertained and then lay it down and forget about. While you hopefully will enjoy the story, it will feel different than most other books. You won’t forget about what you read, and you will think about if for days on end. Even a week after I finished it, thoughts on the book keep rising to my mind, making me think about things I never quite thought of before.
5/5

Reviewed for Thomas Nelson's book review bloggers.

Saturday, April 25

Face of Betrayal

Cassidy (a reporter), Allison (a Federal Prosecutor), and Nicole (an FBI agent) are very close friends. They decide to call themselves the Triple Threat. All three of them become involved in the case of Katie, a missing senate page. Questions surround the disappearance: suicide, running away, or kidnapping. Who was responsible? Led in part by clues from Katie’s myspace page, the hunt is on. At each turn the three are startled by the possibilities…including the possibility of a senator’s involvement in the disappearance.

When I first picked up this book, I was excited. The cover was interesting, and the plot description made it sound like exactly my type of book. I jumped into the story right away and soon found out that I was wrong. As a whole, the book was very uninteresting. For one, the authors throw in random snippets of information or dialogue that has not relevance to the plot or characters, and actually serves to detract from the book. Often times I would read a paragraph and stop with a confused expression on my face, because there was absolutely no point in the description I just read. Beyond that, the book tries to tackle many, many themes. Most of them are quickly thrown in, and then a solution is given if the theme revolves around a life problem. However, all of these smaller themes detract from the main idea and theme of the book, resulting in more distraction. I felt that the courtroom scenes had many clich├ęs in them, and at least one of them made me groan outloud.

Sunday, April 12

The Rivers Run Dry

The Rivers Run Dry is the second book about Special Agent Raleigh Harmon. Though I have not read the first book, I had no trouble at all delving into this story.
Harmon has been transferred to Seattle, on what appears to have been disciplinary action. While she is in Seattle, a hiker goes missing. Was foul play involved? Harmon works on the investigation, trying to follow any leads and meets with a wide array of colorful people, from a shady man brandishing lawyers, to a young mother addicted to both gambling and alcohol, to a clairvoyant who takes special interest in Harmon. Eventually a ransom note comes, and Harmon finally has an idea of who she is dealing with. Now all that is left is to not only find the missing hiker (hopefully alive), but to catch whoever kidnapped her. The Rivers Run Dry is filled with suspense and mystery.
Well written, author Sibella Giorello managed to hold my attention throughout the story. While not reading did not seem to hinder my following and understanding of the plot, I feel that I did not always have as strong a grasp on Harmon’s character as I could’ve from reading the first book. Also, Harmon’s character is a geologist, and I felt a couple of jabs against evolution detracted from the story, as they felt forced and not need.
Still, on the whole, it was an enjoyable read, and I hope to pick up the first book. Maybe it will help clear up a few things and make the story even more enjoyable the next time around.
http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/product_detail.asp?sku=1595545336
3/5 stars.

Friday, March 27

The Word of Promise -- Review

The Word of Promise: Next Generation c.d. set proved to be a very convenient way to listen to the Bible. Whether driving, studying, or working out, I can quickly flip it on and chose what part of the New Testament to listen to. On top of that, it isn’t even like listening to dry book on tapes, with one person attempting to do a wide array of voices. Rather celebrities such as Sean Astin, Annasophia Robb, Cody Linley, and Jordan Sparks all join the voice talent, and there are many more people behind them. It is an extremely well produced set.
However, although the voice talent is easy to listen to, many of them sound too young. Jesus (Cody Linley) sounds like a teenager, not like an adult. This is probably because Cody is only 19. Jesus’ lines aren’t alone either. Many of the characters sound too young, as a result of many of the voice talent being teenage celebrities, with only a few exceptions. That being said, I think that perhaps those in their early teens, who pay more attention to these teenage stars would enjoy this immensely. Perhaps teenage girls could use it to share the gospel with their friends, playing up the fact that Corbin Bleu and Cody Linley both perform in it. In that sense, I believe that this c.d. set could prove to be a useful evangelical tool. I do not think this will appeal as well to adults who may have a hard time accepting youth voicing the roles of Jesus and his disciples.
http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/product_detail.asp?dept_id=230170&sku=1400313309
3/5 stars

Tuesday, March 10

Rachel's Tears review

Rachel’s Tears by Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott
There are some events that will never be forgotten. Among them is the Columbine shooting in 1999 which claimed the lives of thirteen people, including Rachel Joy Scott. Rachel’s Tears is comprised mainly with stories from her parents about their life before and after the shooting, and the dramatic change in their lives as a result of this horrible event as well as entries from her personal diary. Included in this 10 year anniversary book is a short interview with both parents.
This is a book filled with emotion. Many stories are shared of Rachel and her faith. It is amazing to read about a teenage who felt so strongly in her belief in God and did not shy away from it. One of the most powerful chapters in this book is the first chapter, in which first Rachel’s mom (Beth), and the dad (Darrell), recount what they went through on the day of the shooting, and the days after. It will likely bring a tear to your eye. Her mother, especially, has a way of telling the story that makes it seem personal. Though both parents are open and reflective in their remembering, Beth goes into much more detail than Darrell. In reading Beth’s memories of Rachel’s life, Rachel began to feel like someone I had met, someone who I could feel that I knew at some point in my life.
Though this was a good book, the placement of the journal entries did seem a bit confusing. Though it offered further insight into Rachel’s life and mind, often they seemed to be placed randomly. Within chapters, it seems the entries placed there didn’t really relate to the chapter, but was rather an extra tid bit of information. I think it would’ve been more appropriate to either have the text directly reference the journal entries, or to have created a whole new chapter dedicated solely to the journal entries. However, that does not detract from the emotional impact of the story.
4/5 stars.
http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/product_detail.asp?sku=1400313473

Thursday, February 26

Hello

For my first post, I just wanted to inform you that my main purpose for this blog will serve as a review. I plan on mainly posting my reviews on movies and books, but may occasionally review music or other media. Enjoy, and I hope my reviews prove useful.