Saturday, April 30

Nick of Time - a review

Nick of Time by Tim Downs
Nick of Time is the 5th Bug Man book staring Nick Polchak.  I will avoid major spoilers for Nick of Time, but there may be spoilers for the earlier books.

Nick Polchak is getting married.  At the end of the previous novel, Nick proposed.  But the story ended before we knew who he proposed to!  Alena?  Kathryn?  Well a fan vote on Tim Down’ website led to Alena being chosen.  So know the Bug Man is only days away from being married, something that tends to terrify his friends more than him, though he isn’t without his share of worries. 

A week before the big event, Nick goes to a meeting of his peers, which one of his close friends invited him to.  When he gets there, his friend is noticeably absent.  Upon investigation, Nick discovers evidence that his friend has been murdered.  Despite getting married in less than a week now, Nick undergoes a search to find his friends killer, leaving his bride wondering where on earth he is.  But Alena isn’t the type to sit around with her fingers crossed.  After days of not hearing from Nick, she decides to track him.  Will she find him in time, or has Nick gone too far this time?

Friday, April 29

The Priest's Graveyard - a review

The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker

The Priest’s Graveyard is the latest book in which I think of as his ‘serial killer novels.’ Specifically, these are the novels published through Center Street with a plot heavily involving some sort of serial killer. I liked Boneman’s Daughters and thought The Bride Collector was pretty decent. Then again, I didn’t like Immanuel’s Veins (his latest novel until now) and thought Green was a weak entry into the Circle series (these are the only other Dekker books I’ve reviewed so far). So where does The Priest’s Graveyard fall?

The Priest’s Graveyard is the story of Danny and Renee. Renee is a young woman with a troubled life, one that includes drug addiction and abuse. While running from someone trying to killer her, she rescued by a man named Lamont, who quickly becomes her angel. Though a bit quirky and dealing with more than a mild case of OCD, Lamont takes Renee in and cares for her, helping her over her addiction. Renee falls in love with him and they marry. But something terrible happens, and Lamont disappears. Renee suspects Lamont’s corrupt business partner – Bourque.

Danny is a priest, also with a terrible past in war torn Bosnia. But he’s not a normal priest. He’s a priest who seeks to bring the worst of humanity to justice, which usually results in their death. He doesn’t go after petty criminals. He goes after those who will likely never receive prosecution in any other way. Then his path crosses with Renee. He sees the cruelty she was subjected to in her early life and the pain that was caused when Lamont was torn out of her life. Together perhaps they can rid the world of the monster responsible.

Sunday, April 24

Out of a Far Country - a story of unconditional love, grace, and redemption

Out of a Far Country: A gay son’s journey to God.  A broken mother’s search for hope by Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan

In the fall of 2010 I heard Christopher speak at my university, where he told his story as well as telling a bit of his parents’ story.  His parents are Chinese immigrants to the US and did their best to raise him with values of a Chinese household.  Not only was he a strong speaker but he told a powerful story, one especially relevant to today’s world.  Then I learned he wrote a book with his mother, going even deeper into the story.  The book is set up to two sides of the same stories, alternating between his mother’s side, and then his side.

Monday, April 18

Max on Life - a review

Max on Life by Max Lucado
Max Lucado seems as if he is constantly writing!  He publishes at least one book a year, though including gift books there are often more.  His books have connected with people in various stages of their Christian faith.  His most popular titles include 3:16, Facing Your Giants, and Outlive Your Life.  Each book is based around a single theme which is then broken into various forms for different chapters. 

Max on Life differs slightly than his other books.  The subtitle book is, “Answers and Insights to Your Most Important Questions.”  Max gathered 172 questions and provided his thoughts and what he believes a proper Biblical answer would be.  These are questions he has been asked at one time or another over the past 23 years.  The questions are divided into the topics of Hope, Hurt, Help, Him/Her, Home, Haves/Have-Nots, and Hereafter.

Saturday, April 16

Heart of Ice - a review

Heart of Ice by Lis Weihl and April Henry

Heart of Ice is the third book by Lis and April in their Triple Threat series.  The Triple Threat is a group of three woman, Allison (a federal prosecutor), Nicole (FBI agent), and Cassidy (crime news reporter) who are extremely close friends.  Previously I had read Face of Betrayal, which is the first book in the series, and which I did not care for.  However, I won a copy of Heart of Ice through an online giveaway, and decided to give it a chance (and yes, I realize I’m not the intended audience for this novel, though I hope you still find my review helpful).

Elizabeth Avery is a new exercise instructor with a dark past and dating an extremely rich man.  However, her lover is divorced, and his wife seems to constantly want more money.  So Elizabeth devises a way to silence her, with the help of a childhood friend who has a criminal record associated with arson.  Can Triple Threat catch Elizabeth before it’s too late?

I had mixed feelings on Heart of Ice.  I liked that even though I skipped the second book, I could jump right into this one.  Aside from perhaps a few bits of character development, I didn’t really miss anything.  The plot is self contained within this novel, and I didn’t get the sense of an overarching storyline.

Friday, April 15

Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup

Slumdog Millionaire formerly published as Q&A by Vikas Swarup

The movie Slumdog Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle, went on to win 8 Oscars, including best picture.  It also won Best Adapted Screenplay, from the novel Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup, which had previously been published as Q&A.

Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of Ram Muhammad Thomas, who won a billion rupees on one of India’s biggest game shows and was subsequently arrested on charges of cheating.  The game show doesn’t want to pay Ram the full amount, and since he is an uneducated man, they figure the only way he could’ve won is by cheating.  With the help of Smita Shah, a lawyer who takes on Ram’s case, Ram hopes to show how his life experiences helped provide him with the answers to the question and that he did not cheat.

For those of you who have watched the movie, you have already noticed one very large difference between what I just wrote above and what you saw in the movie: the main character’s name.  I have no idea why they changed the lead’s name.  It’s been a couple years since I watched the movie, so this review of the book isn’t meant to examine the transition from book to screen.

Each chapter covers a different question on the game show, and how Ram knew the answer.  We watch as he enjoys his childhood with his best friend Salim, being adopted by a Priest, falling in love, being forced away from the one he loves, and through many other tales.  Though these, we not only discover how Ram knows the answer to the questions on the game show, but we also learn about him, as his character deepens with each question.

Monday, April 11

Into The Deep music video by Cities and Saints

"Into the Deep" by Cities and Saints.

From Cities and Saints Facebook: "Cities and Saints is a four-member melodic alternative rock band based in Grand Rapids, MI. Formed in late 2009, CaS features Evan Walters, former lead guitarist of Three Chord Statement; Adam Visser, former drummer of Three Chord Statement; Scott Walters, former bassist of Echo After; and vocalist and pianist Marty Lamain, who is currently a student at Cornerstone University."

This is their debut music video shot and edited entirely by college film students. I was camera operator on all sequences involving the band. I hope you enjoy, and don't forget to check out Cities and Saints on Facebook!

The Final Summit - a review

The Final Summit by Andy Andrews

David Ponder, first appearing in The Traveler’s Gift, returns in The Final Summit, set nearly 30 years after his quest for knowledge and truth.  He has learned the Seven Decisions and has worked hard to employ them in everything he does.  Yet he seems to have hit some sort of rut in his life, despite all the success he has earned.  He feels somewhat out of place in the world.  But then Gabriel returns and brings him to The Final Summit.  A gathering of all Traveler’s throughout history has been called, and David has been selected to lead them.  They are told that because of the course it has chosen, humankind may well be nearing its end, or at least undergo a cleansing reminiscent of the Flood.  David and the other Traveler’s must correctly figure out what humankind must do to avoid this destruction.  The guidelines: the answer is two words, they only have five guesses, and they have a time limit.

I have not read The Traveler’s Gift, nor did I realize when requesting this book from Booksneeze that The Final Summit was a sequel of sorts.  There are many times, especially in the first quarter of the book, that David’s travels are discussed.  This led to a bit of confusion and made it harder to get into the story.  I have, however, read The Noticer, which I previously reviewed and enjoyed, though it is a completely separate world and story from this one.

Thursday, April 7

Breath of Angel - a review

Breath of Angel by Karyn Henley

After witnessing a terrible murder, Melaia, a young priestess, is suddenly thrust into a supernatural struggle.  Beings once thought to be legends are revealed to be truth.  Immortal men.  Angels.  Shape Shifters.  Malevolents.  There is an ancient blood feud between two immortal brothers which came about after the destruction of a only path from earth to heaven.  With the stairway destroyed, angels are trapped on earth, dragged into this feud.  The angels seek to restore the stairway, but do so a debt must first be repaid.  After being dragged into the story, it soon becomes clear that Melaia will play a role in the restoration – she’s just not sure how.

Breath of Angel is the latest book to enter into the Young Adult/Teen fantasy fiction market, especially in trying to appeal to fans of the Twilight Saga.  It’s not a vampire story (thankfully), but its target audience seems to be teenage females.

I am not a teenage female.

So why did I read it?  Well, I didn’t realize the target audience when I ordered it.  Also, I do love a good fantasy story.  If a story is well told and the characters are engaging, I don’t care as much what the target audience is.   However, Breath of Angel just didn’t work for me.

Sunday, April 3

Star Wars: Decieved - a review

Star Wars: Deceived by Paul S. Kemp

Deceived is the second book in the Old Republic series, which was created to go along with the upcoming mmorpg.  It is set thousands of years before the movies when the Sith and Jedi were at war.  Though the second book in the series, it is not a sequel.  Rather, it follows different characters through a different set of events in the years before Fatal Alliance

The opening sequences of the book feature the action from the cinematic trailer of the same name for the online game.  If you haven’t already, check out the trailer:

Saturday, April 2

Source Code - an engaging sci fi thriller

Source Code directed by Duncan Jone, written by Ben Ripley

Imagine waking up on a train.  You don’t know how you got there.  You don’t know who the lady sitting across from you is, even though she seems to know you.  Your last memory is flying helicopters in Iraq.  Looking in the mirror you don’t see your face…you see someone else.  Your driver’s license says, “Sean” – not your name.  Then the train explodes and you are consumed in a ball of fire.  Only you don’t die.  You wake up in a metallic chamber surrounded by wires, a screen on the wall.    Eventually a woman tells you that the train was real and had been bombed by terrorists who threatened to strike again.  The machine you are in is called the Source Code.  It lets you relive 8 minutes of someone’s life, someone from the train, in a sort of alternate universe which mirrors our exactly.  Your mission is to discover the terrorist within the Source Code so that they can be stopped in your world before detonating a dirty bomb.  You will repeat the assignment until complete.

What do you do?