Sunday, May 31, 2015

Drawing Fire - A Review

A Review

Janice Cantore has created another winner. With three crimes (at least) on her plate, including a cold (i.e. frozen) case, Homicide Detective Abby Hart is kept hopping across Long Beach, CA.

Life can be confusing. The Deputy Chief of Police is trying to micromanage her current cases which limit her ability to move forward as she seeks to solve the three homicides. Engaged to a missions pastor who is currently out of town, ministering overseas, she also finds that her most helpful colleague and witness, PI Luke Murphy, is generating serious doubts about her relationship.

Having been orphaned at the age of five and raised, for the most part, by her aunt in Oregon, she returned to her childhood home with a college athletic scholarship and, eventually, a job offer from the Long Beach Police Department, she is now driven with solving the murders that took her parents from her 27 years ago. Those murders and the three assigned to her as part of the job provide the framework for this interest holding tale of intrigue and mystery.

The author's own 22-year career in the Long Beach Police Department provide amble experience and understanding behind the scenes of an active police force. This, and the author's creativity, contribute value to the book. The reader is made aware of how faith can be found and lived out on the job. In addition, the reader is made aware of the humanness that is a part of every police officer’s life – on and off the job.

The book was a pleasure to read and provides a good foundation to future volumes from Ms. Cantore in the series. Enough open questions suggest hooks that will draw the reader to the next book as soon as it becomes available.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ninjateers: Rise of a New Enemy - A Review

Rise of a New Enemy

Ninjateers Book Cover.jpe

Jamin Melanson

A Review

The first book of a trilogy from this author serves as a story within a story within a story.  At level one, the narrator is fulfilling a promise to her father - to tell the history of the Ninjateers.  As the story begins, she reverts to a conversation between four Ninjateers and their newest apprentices.  That conversation concludes with the apprentices asking for details of the Humanot War, which occurred six years earlier.  It is the story of that war which occupies most of the book.  

It is Spring in the year is 2196.  Due to a number of environmental factors, earth's geography, though it still exists, has changed considerably - with continents shifting and merging to form new and unexpected landmasses.  The calamities that led to these changes have served to create a modern Luddite culture - one which would avoid modern technology at all costs.  And one which is ill-prepared to do battle with others that had no fear of using modern technology to win a war.  

The story held this reader's interest - requiring at least two nights of late reading to reach the climax and conclusion of the great battle in which the Ninjateers found themselves.  The story leaves the reader feeling as if he or she is again following the lives of such men as the Scarlet  Pimpernel or Robin Hood and His Merry Men.  Though placed well into the future, this dystopian adventure seemed realistic and believable.  With no reference to eschatology as normally expressed by the church, the Ninjateers still have a faith rooted in scripture, both theologically and practically, as they live out their lives.  

Though this reader is somewhat past middle age, I suspect that the young teenager (or even a well-read pre-teen) would find the story and adventure of interest.  Lessons of faith are both explicit and implicit as the story moves through to its final scenes.  That being said, the book leaves room for more excitement as it prepares for volume 2 of the trilogy.

The plot, character development. Etc., are well-done. On the other hand, this reader has one concern:  the number of grammatical and punctuation errors found throughout the book.  As a college instructor in the fields of computer science and religion, I would ask myself as I read student writing, “Do the errors I encounter distract from my reading?”  In the case of this book, the answer would be, “Yes.”  In my private correspondence with the author I have encouraged the use of an editor or grammar checker.  Hopefully, he will make use of these tools as he continues to market the book.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the author for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

All You Want to Know About The Bible in Pop Culture - A Review

All You Want to Know About
The Bible in Pop Culture
Kevin Harbey

A Review

A mix of cultural reflection, Biblical application, and Bible study.

The book starts with an interesting premise – what does pop culture reveal about our faith and the world in which we find ourselves. It does this by looking at the details found in a variety of cultural milestones – from television to movies to music. By looking at a variety of snippets from assorted media, the book attempts to look at how faith, or at least the world's impression of that faith, has influenced the arts.

While the text does accomplish its purpose by looking at these snippets of media content, it does little to prepare the user to do his or her own reflection on the media in the future. The book is designed to show a view of the world as it is found in the first two decades of the 21st century. Along with its text, the book does this with a set of trivia challenges associated with each chapter and with the book as a whole. In fact, these trivia puzzles occupy about 20% or more of the book.

It is the lack of tools to help the reader to continue reflecting on culture which is the major drawback of the book for this reader. It would have been helpful to include principles, not just illustration after illustration, of how to find faith's influence on modern culture.

Is the book of value? Yes, for the individual attempting to understand the possible role of faith in the first half of the 21st century. It will be of less help for the person hoping to evaluate faith's role moving into the next five decades of the century.
This review is based on a free copy of the book provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Case of the Invisible Dog - A Review

The Case of the Invisible Dog

Diane Stingly

A Review

A well-written, but disappointing, mystery.

The characters are fascinating – I cannot determine who is crazier: Shirley Homes or her new protege, Tammy Norman. The writing is suburb, yet the plot feels more like a TV soap opera in which the reader is forced to watch (I.e. read) the next episode.

Shirley Homes's claim to fame is being the great, great, grand-daughter of the brilliant Sherlock Holmes. The question of Sherlock's actual existence remains unanswered – since the whole world knows of him as a fictional character, while Shirley claims to have proof that of his historical existence. Perhaps she is crazy, perhaps not.

Tammy Norman's relationship history has many missteps. Among those are her ex-husband and that with her new employer, Shirley Homes. Perhaps she should have listened to her gut, and … well it is too late now.

What draws them together is Shirley Homes' first case – a young man who cannot sleep through the night because of a noisy dog that no one has seen or heard. His murder makes increases the necessity of following the leads laid before them.

The story does hold the reader's attention, but it ends with no resolution. I will look forward to reading the next book in the series, perhaps it will answer the unanswered question raised by The Case of the Invisible Dog.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.