Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Apply the Word Study Bible - A Review

Apply the Word
Study Bible
Apply the Word Study Bible.cover.jpg

New King James Version

A Review

Though titled “Study Bible”, this compilation of notes, maps, and commentary is more closely entitled a “Devotional Bible”. As the title also suggests, most of the notes are practical and geared toward a reader’s understanding of how the scripture can be applied toward one’s life. A few notes (mostly book introductions) focus more on introducing the historical settings of the individual books and their authors, but the focus of the book as a whole is devotional - not academic.

Having said that, the notes are well done and interesting. They are applicable and helpful for the Christian Believer. As with many small form study Bibles, this volume lacks an index to the various notes. If you are studying a passage - the notes will be helpful, but if I want to gather material on a specific topic, it will be more difficult to discover helpful comments. An index would help in this regard. As I have suggested in other reviews, a Bible without an index could be improved if made available as a searchable e-book or an on-line searchable database.

The Bible does include a concordance and a set of Bible maps - nothing special, but like one might expect in a handy to use Bible.  

I would recommend this edition of the NKJV Bible for a new believer. It could also have a place on the shelf of a church library for use during worship service or during a midweek Bible Study. It might also be an appropriate for a high school graduation gift.  

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

Newsmakers - A Review


A Review

“Newsmakers” is a political thriller, stolen from the front pages of a 21st century newspaper - perhaps it opens up a new genre of literature: “journalistic terrorism.”

As in the past, Lis Wiehl has created a carefully paced story that keeps the reader engaged and wanting more. It seems like Erica Sparks is in the right place at the right time for two, too many, news stories. She was there when the ferry crashed; she was there when Kay Barrish, California politician considering a run for the Presidency, dies in Erica’s arms. As a friend says, “It was awful coincidenky (sic) …”

It would take Erica, her co-workers at GNN, the new Global News Network, police working on both the East and West Coasts, and a bit of luck to find the connecting link. A link that could have national and international implications if not discovered.  

Though coming from a Christian publisher, the book is not overtly religious and should appeal to a large number of readers - those who like cozy mysteries, those who like a hint of romance, conspiracy theorists, and news junkies.

The pieces come together in an epilogue. An epilogue that ends with a call from the President of the United States asking for Erica Sparks help ...

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.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Cold Shot - A Review

Cold Shot
Cold Shot.jpg
Dani Pettrey

A Review

The Civil War battles at Gettysburg had ended a long time ago. And Finley Scott, forensic anthropologist, was present to recover some of its lost history. But what should have been a long buried body was soon understood to have been buried just a few months ago. And it would take Ms. Scott’s team and Chief Ranger Griffin McCray, along with his friends, to discover who put it there.

Sadly, the book is advertised as a “romantic suspense” - not untrue, but that word “romantic” may drive some who would like the book away. Similarly, the cover shot of a lonely Ranger, underwrites the “romantic”. I would argue that the book is a thriller first and foremost. Yes, it has a hint of romance, but placing the book’s focus at this point will, again, drive away some who might enjoy the book.

If I had one word to describe this book, it would be “secrets”: each of the characters carries a load that they would like to hide but that limit their ability to do their work at their best. But the secret would come out and the jobs would get done. And the evidence would lead to the truth.

I appreciated the way the author weaved spiritual truth into the story - not with heavy scripture, but with the characters living out their faith. Faith is not applied in a heavy handed manner, but becomes a natural part of the story as it evolves over the character’s lives.

Recommended for believers of all stripes, the book was well worth the time I spent between its pages.

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.

Epiphany - A Review


A Review

The Father Rockcastle is asked to stand up for two teens, one delusional, the other innocent, who have been arrested for murder. His brother is a lawyer. An unknown daughter arrives at his door. And a parishioner with two young sons catches the pastor’s eye. And what could have become a mishmash of disconnected stories arrives as a thoughtful, engaging novel that keeps the reader interested from beginning to end.  

The book revolves around the involvement of the various characters’ attempts to connect with each other and to find the murderer of an unidentified man. Each has a piece of the puzzle. And with the help of a future Supreme Court Justice, it was the daughter and her cousin that complete the puzzle. The question becomes, can they finish the puzzle without losing their lives in the process.

The combination of politics, law, faith, relationships, and justice, will draw many into this book. I hope that the presence of a Catholic Priest will not dissuade the Protestant or non-religious reader from picking up this exciting and readable thriller. Though the book is not religious; it does have a distinct taste of grace - regardless of how hurt one may be. Thus, the book may draw readers from many directions to its pages. The book is worth the five stars I have awarded it.

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.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Marked Masters - A Review

Marked Masterd.jpg

A  Review

Having previously read “Counterfeit Conspiracies”, and having been disappointed in its soap opera feel, I was not sure what to expect from its sequel. The sequel did answer many of the leftover questions from the first book in the trilogy, but not all of them. One might hope that book three will bring closure to all the remaining questions raise by Laurel Beacham and her band of mismatched detectives.

The writing is well-done, inviting the reader of fiction to discover more of Florida and Florence, Italy, as stolen artwork is discovered and returned to its rightful owner. The pace of the writing is steady and quite capable of holding the reader’s interest. My biggest concern is that if I had not read the earlier book within the past week, I would at times would have felt loss in the author’s current work. My remaining concern is similar as I look forward to the third book’s release six months after the completion of the first two. I can only hope that the author or publisher will choose to include a brief synopsis of the first two books, both for those who have not read the earlier works and for those of us did have the opportunity to read them, albeit six months earlier.

For the reader looking for an international thriller addressing 21st century issues, Ritter Ames has written a series of books worthy of the time spent between their covers. But, unless the publisher chooses to include a brief review of the earlier books, this reviewer would suggest waiting for the third book in the series and reading them consecutively with little delay between the start of each new book.  
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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Play-Along Bible - A Review

The Play-Along Bible
Play-Along Bible - cover.jpg
Writer: Bob Hartman
Illustrator: Susie Poole

A Review

Children, like adults, learn in different ways. Learning by doing is a key tool to teaching all ages. This book takes this concept to a new direction.

Rather than using song and music, the author has taken Biblical truth and retold them with rhythm and motion. The author has taken 50 well-known stories and created as series of “dramas” that can be acted out and remembered for both what they say, but also what the children may do. These stories a small - creation is divided into seven stories, one for each day - but they cover the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  Also included are a set of four child size memory verses; just right for the young minds that will find this book of most use. Given the number of Bible stories covered, I would think the selection of memory verses could have been expanded; a creative teacher or parent should have no problem doing exactly that.

The book will fit well with most pre-school curriculum - with it be in a Sunday School or a Day Care setting. Similarly, the book will well with family devotions in a home with at least one small child. Most kindergartners will still find the book entertaining - but kids much older than this might find the lessons “BORING”, to quote on grade schooler who sitting in his assigned class.  My wife will be using the book with her 3-4 year old, Pre-K Sunday School class. I suspect we may be using it with our own grandkids as they get just a bit older.

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