Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book Review: The Patmos Deception

The Patmos DeceptionThe Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book but felt like I kept waiting for more.  What I loved most was the setting in Greece and the tie in to Paul's exile on Patmos. It was so neat to read and be reminded that these are real places where the New Testament stories occurred. Unfortunately, the rest of the book was a little flat for me. The story follows Carey as she goes to Greece for a job opportunity only to find that the Institute has closed.  Her childhood friend Nick asks her to help investigate the theft of religious icons which she does. This takes them off to the Islands of Greece and they meet Dmitri a fisherman turned tourist boat operator struggling to make ends meet and not lose his family's boat and dock space.  Dmitri is drawn into a scheme to steal a letter written by Paul's scribe to Jesus' mother, a priceless icon. Dmitri's first mate, Sofia, and her husband Manos, island's policeman are also drawn into the story.  I enjoyed a few of the characters (I think Sofia and Manos were actually my favorites, and they are really just supporting characters!) As I write this summary, I realize that I'm confused (and disappointed) in the ending of the story. Nick was asked to investigate the theft because high level people in the country were believed to be involved in the theft and it needed to be kept quiet.  As I think over the conclusion, I don't think this was concluded at the end! The ending seemed rather anti-climactic. Minor characters (who weren't even named!) are arrested and no mention is made of the actual "bad guy" or of the other high level people involved. The "romance" in the story really didn't speak to me either.  Carey had always thought herself to be in love with Nick throughout their childhood relationship, though he never saw her that way.  When he shows interest in her, she realizes he is not the best man for her after all.  Dmitri also shows interest in her but appears to be somewhat of a playboy. The characters and romance really don't seem to be well written, I wasn't invested in any of the main characters and the romance seemed fairly nonexistent to me. The ending of the book was terrible. In addition to the previously mentioned anti-climactic ending to the drama, the author doesn't even finish the romance story.  Suddenly, both men propose to her and the book ends with no closure.  She makes no decisions, however has a short conversation with a friend about these two proposals. The faith aspect of the book also seemed practically non-existent.  I don't recall Carey doing much soul searching, or discussing faith much, yet suddenly she has a conversation with Dmitri (untold as well, he merely asks her to explain to him and it's implied that she does so) and later with Sofia.  Carey doesn't witness or discuss her faith really yet supposedly both of these characters come to Christ through her.

So in summary, though the idea behind the book is good and the majority of it isn't terrible, it just seemed very superficial. It didn't feel like a book a well known author like Davis Bunn would have written, rather it felt like a beginner's novel.  I really wouldn't recommend it.

I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review: The First Christmas Ever

You can never have too many books about the real reason of Christmas!

This book, The First Christmas Ever, written and illustrated by Dennis Jones, is an excellent addition to our library.  The illustrations are quirky and unique and inject a bit of humor into the story. The story is true to the Bible and well written, easy for young listeners to understand. We definitely enjoyed this little paperback and it will make a regular appearance in our Christmas reading!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book REview: Playing Saint

Playing SaintPlaying Saint by Zachary Bartels

This book  was a really enjoyable Christian mystery. The main character, Parker Saint, is the Pastor of a mega church with his own tv show to boot. He preaches a feel good message which doesn't help him much when he is forced to assist the local police detectives with a murder investigation with Satanic influences. Throughout the investigation, he comes to realize where he is lacking and makes changes in his life. The investigation was great and I enjoyed the characters. Paul Kecham, the rough head detective was one of my favorites, but I especially enjoyed Parker's escapades with the 3 Jesuit priest/spies! The mystery had a nice twist at the end and held my interest throughout, and the story of the change of Parker's spiritual life was well done as well.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Book Review: Adventure Bible, Moses Leads the People

I snagged a review copy of an I Can Read book from Zonderkidz. It's the Adventure Bible Series called Moses Leads the People.
My oldest, who is in first grade this year, but a very advanced reader, said she loved this story. I'm excited to have another good reader for teacher my younger children when the time comes and I love having more bible stories around!  The pictures are great and the story is Biblically accurate and interesting. I liked the way they dealt with the scarier parts of the story, like the death of the oldest sons; it states it accurately but doesn't dwell on it (for younger children who aren't quite ready for that aspect of the story) and the picture that goes along is not graphic. This is a great addition to our library!

I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review: Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door

It's always fun to review kids books!  And my kids and I loved this book from Zonderkidz.  Its a fun cowboy story about Conrad, a well prepared boy (with a gigantic first aid kit he knows how to use!) who goes to learn how to be a cowboy on his Uncle Clint's ranch.  When he arrives, he meets the know-it-all cowgirl next door, Imogene.  Conrad sets a wonderful example throughout the book as he responds to her annoying comments and especially at the end as he shows her kindness despite the fact that she has just bought the horse he was bidding on! The book feels like a very well made hard back, and has adorable illustrations throughout.  At the back of the book there is a spread of cute cowboy poems, as well as a letter from the author to parents explaining the theme, the reason behind the story, and includes discussion starters to help kids understand being kind to one's enemies. This is a great storybook with a great message that I know my kids will read over and over!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book ReviewL NIV Essentials Study Bible

I was able to snag an ebook review copy of this study bible, the NIV Essentials Study Bible. As an ebook, this has a really nice layout.  There are many menus in the front, including lists of links to the different kinds of helps and devotionals. The books of the Bible are linked as well as each chapter for easy access, which makes using this as your only Bible during sermons much more possible. This would be a good Bible for beginners to ebook Bibles as well, as the introduction includes a brief tutorial on how to navigate to specific passages and supplementary materials. One thing I really like about this version is that the supplementary materials are not interspersed throughout the chapter as they are in a typical printed Bible.  Rather, they are in a section at the end of each book of the Bible and hyperlinks are included in the readings.  So one can easily read their chosen passage without distractions, and then go back and use the hyperlinks to see applicable supplemental materials.  Or if you prefer, you can jump to them during your reading.

There is an excellent introduction to each book of the Bible as well, and I appreciate the simple layout.  Rather than one long introduction of several pages of info, which can sometimes be hard to follow and read, this Bible's introductions are short and simple, with various sections such as Key Concepts, About the book, Key Verses, Key Teachings, Key Terms, and People to Know. These sections are often simple bulleted points or short descriptions of key terms or people. The supplemental helps seem to be explanations and devotionals to really help one understand the text and explain common questions and cultural differences the text might bring up.

I'd definitely recommend this Bible for those seeking to deepen their faith and study of the Bible. The helpful commentaries and easy to navigate layout make it an excellent choice for an e-Bible.

I recieved an e-copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Tried and True

Tried and True (Wild at Heart, #1)Tried and True by Mary Connealy
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really was interested in reading this book after reading the promo. Kylie, who is honorably discharged from service in the Civil War where she enlisted disguised  as a man, is now homesteading also disguised as a man. The land surveyor, Aaron, quickly realizes she is far from a man when he inspects her property and meets her. He gets caught up in investigating and protecting her when someone tries to scare her off her property.

Most of the novel was interesting, and enjoyable to read. Its a easy, noncomplicated adventure of sorts. The main part of the mystery is wrapped up easily and that is where it was kind of ruined for me... the rest of the novel seems like they just tacked on the there to round out the story, and that part of the storyline comes out of nowhere. There were several inconsistencies, such as the fact that their indian friend Sunrise, first touted as the best tracker there is, doesn't hear someone sneaking up on them yet the entire group quickly finds them for the rescue. There is hardly any talk of faith throughout the book, yet at the end they are suddenly extremely spiritual.  The entire ending was odd to me and didn't fit the book well at all.
I imagine readers of Christian fiction would enjoy this book, however the ending section really spoiled it for me.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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