Monday, July 24, 2017

Another CAPTIVATING Guide: Three Books For The Price Of One!

Mythology: A Captivating Guide to Greek Mythology, Egyptian Mythology, and Norse Mythology (Norse Mythology - Egyptian Mythology - Greek Mythology Book 4)
Matt Clayton
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B06XBNBZFX
350 pages
$16.08

Author Matt Clayton has done a good job of introducing the fascinating genres of Greek, Norse and Egyptian mythology. I was very impressed with his ability to keep all the facts straight, considering the diverse nature of the subject matter. Having said that, I have to temper my praise with a few observations. The author's intentions are clear; to write a CAPTIVATING guide, and I feel that he has accomplished his goal. Yet his treatment of the material is somewhat superficial. I would have liked a broader perspective. Which leads to the second observation, the material was unbalanced, particularly in the Greek section. Much time was spent on one or two particular stories, while other stories barely received any attention at all. Finally, I noticed that there were some details in some of the myths that didn't ring true with what I had read sometime earlier. For instance, the legend concerning the Titans swallowed by Cronus. In Clayton's text, Cronus regurgitates his children. The anthology that I read in high school has Zeus splitting the head of Cronus open with an axe, and the Titans escaping in this fashion. This should not be taken as a criticism of the author, because anyone with experience in these genres is aware of the issues related to textual criticism and the oral tradition underlying the preservation and transmission of the text. All in all, author Matt Clayton provides an impressive collection and representation for three extremely diverse bodies of literature.


ADDENDUM:  A closer look at the title has caused me to issue a correction, of sorts.  This is actually the FOURTH anthology that author Matt Clayton has issued concerning Greek mythology.  I’m new to reviewing Matt Clayton as an author, and have not read the previous three books on Greek myths.  My apologies, Matt!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

So You Think You Know Franklin D. Roosevelt? Read Captivating History: Franklin Delano Roosevelt To Find Out!

Well, folks, the blinders are off.  With extensive footnotes from both primary and secondary sources, Captivating History introduces you to Franklin Delano Roosevelt; the only man in the history of the presidency to serve three terms in office . . . and to be elected for a fourth!  Had his health not robbed this nation of one of her greatest statesman, presidents, and public servant, who knows how many more chapters would have been written!

This book reads more like an exposé than a history book, meaning that you won't be completely inundated with facts and figures, dates, times and places.  You will be privy to stuff about Franklin Roosevelt that you never knew . . . and maybe some stuff that you would have happily remained in ignorance of.

It's amazing how much Franklin Roosevelt accomplished in his lifetime, despite serious health issues and constant battles with his personal demons.  Therein lies the greatness of the man . . . that he was able to guide this nation through World War II, the Great Depression, and financial crises over a period of 12 years.  His indomitable will carried the day when a lesser man might have failed.  His rallying cry, "never give up; never, never, never give up!" is still as soul-stirring as the day in which he first uttered it.

His personal peccadillos serve as a reminder of what one man can do, despite his feet of clay.  

This is a quick read, and yet it serves as a wonderful "snapshot" of one of America's most beloved leaders.

5 stars for a wonderful introduction to Franklin Delano Roosevelt!


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Have You Made Any Decisions Lately?

We face decisions every day. Some are pretty basic; "What am I going to have for breakfast?" "What am I going to wear?" Stuff like that.

Other decisions can have some serious consequences. "Should I buy that new-to-me car, or wait a little while longer?" "Should I remain at my current job, or start looking elsewhere?"

Then there are questions that have consequences of eternal significance: "Which God am I going to serve?" "How can I handle disappointment?" "To whom should I pray? And when? And why?"

In Scripture, these questions are often worded in such a way as to indicate that the decisions being made are going to bring with them a break - perhaps a permanent one - in some relationships which, up to this point, have been very satisfying, and a source of great blessing.

Joshua, in his speech to the tribes of Israel, revealed his decision in this manner:
"And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15 (KJV)

Samuel, speaking to Saul after God had rejected Saul for the throne of Israel, declared:
"Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:" 1 Samuel 12:23 (KJV)

And David, in Psalm 5, reveals his own personal decision, as well:
"The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. 6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man. 7 But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple." Psalm 5:5-7 (KJV)

These are decisions (and there are others in Scripture, as well) that are going to leave lasting impressions, and are going to drastically change deep, personal relationships.

Such decisions are not to be made lightly. At the same time, one must recognize that circumstances may bring about the necessity of making those decisions. And when the time comes, the decision must be made wholeheartedly. A half-made decision is like a half-baked pie; if eaten, it usually results in a bellyache!

One final illustration for your consideration:
"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." Hebrews 11:8-10 (KJV)

Do you have some decisions to make today?


Monday, July 10, 2017

A TATTOO ARTIST, AN ATHEIST, AN OBSESSIVE / COMPULSIVE AND A JOCK WALK INTO A STORY . . . IS THIS A JOKE?

Not hardly!

The idea intrigued me.  Four stellar authors, collaborating on one . . . book?  novella?  miniseries?  thing?  And they did it for fun.  Just to answer the question, “What if . . .?”

I mean, the questions were numerous:  how was this all coming together? would it all come together?  what about “creativity clashes?”

Well, I’m here to tell you . . . it worked.  Each author wrote from the perspective of one of the main characters, maintaining and developing that character’s personality (at times comically, other times quite emotionally), telling one story made up of four.

In THE CALL, Bill Myers introduces us to Brenda, a conniving tattoo artist with a satirical streak a mile wide, and a penchant (gift? curse?) for tatting future events.

Frank Peretti gives us the Professor in THE HAUNTED.  The professor is a former priest turned atheist whose logical bent would win accolades on the planet Vulcan (pardon the Star Trek allusion; I’m dating myself, here!). 

In THE SENTINELS, Andi is the professor’s obsessive/compulsive assistant with a fascination for numbers.  Strangely enough, in this instance, the numbers are far from random.

Finally, THE GIRL by Alton Gansky brings us Tank, a naïve, football playing good ol’ boy with the (inconsistent) gift of healing, and an amazing capacity for love.

Through a series of orchestrated meetings, these four random strangers have been brought together to help restore order, bring healing – and oh, yes – settle the score with supernatural beings intent on bringing death, destruction, annihilation, and subjugation to the inhabitants of planet earth.

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

And perhaps these four award-winning authors didn’t.  Perhaps, and I’m just going out on a limb here, perhaps they have creatively combined their God-given imaginations to share with us an allegory, perhaps a parable - an earthly story that communicates a spiritual truth in a way that draws us in, instead of driving us away.

I’ve made up my mind.  Perhaps you ought to get a copy for yourself and draw your own conclusions.  

Regardless . . . my questions have been answered.  It works.  All of it works.  And I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Five Stars for a seamless collaborative effort on the part of four extremely gifted authors!

Invitation (Harbingers): Cycle One of the Harbingers Series
Frank Peretti, Bill Meyers, Angela Hunt, & Alton Gansky
ISBN: 076421974X
Bethany House Publishers
Print Length: 353 pages
$15.99 paperback

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Did You Know That Haiti Had Undergone A Revolution? I Didn't, Until I Read This Book!


Captivating History is just that!  Before I received the ARC for this book, I had no inkling that Haiti had undergone a revolution!  This book provides a thorough understanding of the major players and significant events, with sufficient detail to keep the reader turning the page.  I would have appreciated a little more depth on the analysis, but as a quick introduction, this book can stand on its own two feet!

Four Stars for an excellent introduction to the Haitian Revolution

Thursday, October 13, 2016

CLOSER THAN CLOSE: CAN YOU EVER GET TOO CLOSE TO GOD?

We are told in John 15:9,
“As the father hath loved me, so have i loved you: continue ye in my love.”
John 15:9 (kjv)

Jesus promised in John 13:34 – 35,
34  a new commandment i give unto you, that ye love one another; as i have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35  by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
John 13:34-35

And in John 14:23, we are given hope that such a transformation is even possible:
“Jesus answered and said unto him, if a man love me, he will keep my words: and my father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
John 14:23

Like Abby (p. 130), all I want is a real, vibrant, closer than close relationship with my Heavenly Father (who  created me), my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (who redeemed me), and the Holy Spirit (who leads, guides, comforts, corrects, and empowers me.) 

Is that too much to ask?  Author Dave Hickman doesn’t seem to think so.  That’s why he wrote this book.

While the book could be considered short (only 177 pages), the ground it covers is extensive.  First Dave addresses the problem (the gap between creator and creation).  He then outlines what happened, and why.  And finally, he offers a workable solution to the dilemma at hand. and / or our Heavenly father.

The last section of the book contains an overview and brief explanation of the spiritual disciplines which were an integral part of the early church, and have been re-discovered by such authors as Dallas Willard (“The Spirit Of The Disciplines”) and Stephen Foster (“Celebrating The Disciplines.)  Far from being an end in and of themselves, the disciplines are given their proper place, and their proper emphasis.  The disciplines serve to “position” the believer in their relationship with God, so that he can do his best work in our lives.  The discussion of each discipline, while brief, is nonetheless thorough and amply illustrated through the experiences of the saints throughout the ages, on up to Dave Hickman’s personal testimonies.

5 stars for a short book that’s deep enough to drown in

CLOSER THAN CLOSE
Dave Hickman
ISBN 978-1-63146-408-9
Religion / Christian Life / Spiritual Growth
NavPress
177 pages, softcover
$14.99 U.S.




HAS ANYONE EVER SEEN GOD? 101 QUESTIONS ABOUT GOD, THE WORLD, AND THE BIBLE

Written in short, warm devotional style, HAS ANYONE EVER SEEN GOD (the title I will use throughout this review for the sake of brevity!) poses a question that may be on the mind of a skeptic, a brand-new believer, or perhaps an older saint who may need to re-visit a few “wells” along the way.  The author then provides a teaser.  It’s not a complete answer, because we are never going to get to the place where we “know it all,” anyhow.  Why do you think heaven is for all eternity?  Then there is a Bible passage for further consideration, tied to the discussion.

For that’s where it’s supposed to lead . . . a discussion.  I can readily see random strangers commenting on “that cute book” that you’re reading in the doctor’s office waiting room, in the park as your kids enjoy the playground, on that red-eye flight where no one seems to be sleeping anyhow.  And when that remark from the complete stranger lands on your side of the court . . . duh!  That’s God kicking doors in for you to tell others about him!  Go for it!

This hard-cover book is also delightfully illustrated throughout, has a ribbon marker to keep your place, and is small enough to fit into a purse or journal keeper, making it readily accessible. 

But don’t let the appearances fool you.  The questions have a way of sticking in your mind.  You might find yourself digging more into the Bible, and (gasp!) possibly growing in your faith because of the seed-thoughts that have been planted by this wonderful little book.  I know this from first-hand experience, and these books are in my “primary collection” of sermon resources, for that very reason.

5 stars for a fresh jump-start to a stalled faith

HAS ANYONE EVER SEEN GOD?  101 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT GOD, THE WORLD, AND THE BIBLE
Carolyn Larsen
Amy Weeks, illustrator
ISBN 978-1-4964-1174-7
Religion / Christian Life / Inspirational
Tyndale Momentum
106 pages, hardcover w/ ribbon marker
$9.99 U.S.