Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Oasis Project by Art Adkins

Superb Mystery

The Oasis Project by Art Adkins is a murder mystery set on the east coast. A young college student is not convinced when the local police and coast guard stated it was an accident that took the lives of her parents and younger brother. Determined to find the truth behind her family’s death she has asked everyone she knows to help with little to no progress. Someone suggested that she contact a relatively new resident that just moved in, he was a retired police officer. Redundantly, the retired police officer agrees to investigate and slowly unravels the real reason behind the death of her family.

The best thing about this book is having an author that knows and understands both sides of the law enforcement point of view. This makes the story, through a protagonist point of view, more realistic than most mysteries. The book has a quick moving plot that does a masterful job at holding on to the climax until the very end. The story contains elements of mystery, suspense, comic relief and yes even a little romance. I have already told others, who enjoy mysteries they need to read this one.

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

George Washington Carver by John Perry

The “Peanut Man” and More

George Washington Carver by John Perry books covers his life as a child born into slavery and the ordeals of racial injustice during this time while striving to further his education. Carver’s quite demeanor and ability to trust in God was his driving force through many trails and ordeals through his life. The book goes through his childhood, how he was sickly but able to self educate so he could read and write. Driven by his need for more education he provided with more opportunities but again because of the historical period this also brought complications because of his race.

While Carver was very gifted, we could only wonder what would have happened if he had been just a little more structured in his pursuit of documentation while conducting his experiments. His normal method was not to bother with documenting until after the results were completed. With taking the time to document his experiments, to prove the entire process involved, would have opened more job opportunities and recognition. Since documentation was not a concern for him, many companies passed on many of his discoveries.

A fascinating biography, a must read for all historical enthusiast.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing through BookSneeze.com in exchange for my honest review of the book.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lincoln and Darwin: Two Men Who Shaped the World by Robert L. Henn

Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were both born on February 12, 1809. Besides sharing the same birth date, they never met but were similar in so many ways. They both had a great drive for knowledge; both had a high capacity of memory and recall. Both were self-confident and were very persistent even when a great number of people did not agree with what they were doing.

A view of both Lincoln and Darwin is presented in historical detail. Events, timelines and detailed descriptions are shared in many of the key events in both men’s lives. The books purpose is to show how these two men were so similar. What was Lincoln doing while Darwin was sailing on the HMS Beagle or when we wrote the Origin of the Species? What was Darwin doing when Lincoln was giving the Gettysburg Address or when he was assassinated? It is interesting how two men so far apart in the world shared so many traits yet were able to change the world in their own unique manner.

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

Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory

Intriguing and Thought Provoking

Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory is about a man caught in today’s rat race. He works long hours, does not see his family much, his relationship with others continues to deteriorate and his faith is all but gone. That is until he receives an anonymous dinner invitation. The main character debates at length if he should go or not. Finally, he decides to go just to see who is dinner partner really is and finds out it is Jesus of Nazareth.

Most of us would think, yeah right dinner with Jesus but what interested me was the thought provoking part that caught me by surprise was “What would I say if I was in his shoes?” The story covers many good questions but I was more intrigued by what was being asked and how or if I would do the same thing? The book is a quick read but generates many internal questions one must ask about how their relationship is with God. Are we just going through the motions? This would be a great book for a Christian book club or a bible study group.

I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing in exchange for my honest review of the book.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

J.R.R. Tolkien by Mark Horne

Tolkien’s Influences

The biography J.R.R. Tolkien by Mark Horne is a quick read. Unlike other biographies about Tolkien, the focus is more on how the events in his life and religious up brings influenced his writing. The book covers his childhood surroundings and impressionable times like the passing of his mother and father at an early age. His fascination with languages and the ability to create his own language at an early age was a lifelong passion. The book also covers many of the groups he belonged to and some he started. The ability to share his thoughts and developed he stories was a great tool to help improve and enhance the stories he had started. Friends who will prove you an honest review are hard to come.

This biography brings out the real human qualities of Tolkien. It shows how creative and imaginative he was but it also revealed his self-doubt and his strive for perfection. You can really visualize and relate to how Tolkien felt in his struggles in writing the stories and how uncomfortable it was for him to publish some of his works.

If you are looking for a quick read about Tolkien but looking for more of how his stories many have evolved, read this book.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing through BookSneeze.com in exchange for my honest review of the book.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Beginning Origami by Pamela L. Wieten

Beginners BEWARE

Beginning Origami by Pamela L. Wieten attempts to show people who are not familiar with origami how to create four basic origami foldings. For a beginner this book will be very confusing and at times difficult to transition from one fold to another. The author does not follow the very basic symbols of what most origami books use to show how folding are done. You can clearly tell an amateur does the drawings because the foldings are not always true to how they should look. Basic origami books that are used to teach both adults and children follow four basic rules: 1) The book should contain at least ten foldings, 3-4 foldings to teach basic folding instructions. 2) Slightly more complex foldings to challenge them and to teach 2 to 3 more bases. 3) Leave one folding at the end that will challenge them and they should not be able to master right away. If they master all the foldings in the first try, their interest level will disappear. 4) Keep the instructions simple, meaning each drawing should represent one and no more than two folding instructions. Showing the beginner eight folding instructions at once will be very confusing for them.

I have been doing origami for over forty years, collected hundreds of origami books, taught children of all ages and adults including college students, developed beginner, intermediate and advanced origami instruction manuals. I could never with a clear concuss suggest this book to anyone I knew was interest in learning origami.

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

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why God Won't Go Away bu Alister McGrath

New Atheism vs. God

Alister McGrath book “Why God Won’t Go Away” brings to light the ongoing battle between if God really exists or not. Unlike his protagonists Harris, Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchens the author of this book, McGrath, does not waste his time bashing the others for their beliefs. Instead, he takes the time in his book so that you fully understand all four of his protagonist’s points of views. After you have a better understanding then he compares all the points of views. McGrath addresses many issues and problematic topics that are conveniently bypassed with the other authors. McGrath does not hide the fact that there are some things that cannot be proven by faith or by science. That does not mean we disregard or abandon our religious beliefs. McGrath clearly states that the New Atheism movement is more or less another fad that is already quickly disappearing. The interesting thing is the numbers of people who believe on God do not seem to be going away but continue to grow.

The idea that religion causes violence based on the wars and terrorist actions we have seen is an unsupported theory. McGrath even provides examples of wars that were started that had nothing to do with religion. The basic fact is if you remove religion, we humans will find something else to fight.

Allow the others time to enjoy their 15 minutes of fame because the in the end if one of us is wrong in our beliefs which one of us will truly suffer for it?

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through BookSneeze.com in exchange for my honest review of the book.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Desiring God by John Piper

Desiring God by John Piper can be summed up in three sentences in his book, “If I cannot show that Christian Hedonism comes from the bible, I do not expect anyone to be interested, let alone persuaded. There are a thousand man-made philosophies of life. If this is another, let it pass. This appears in the last paragraph of the introduction.

The whole intent of the book is to persuade you into believing in the same philosophy of how the author attempts to understand his own religion beliefs. He was correct I was not persuaded, this was just another person’s philosophy and I will let this one pass.

Piper took many scripture reading out of context to fit his philosophy. My interested was not there mainly because I found his philosophy self centered and overall selfish. This is not what Jesus thought us.
The pursuit of happiness has always been a desire in man but beyond that, it becomes a personal fetish. One must balance the desire for happiness with the reality of the true feeling of life, yes that includes happiness but also sorrow, confusion, anger, along with the many other feeling we have. I very rarely ever say this but this would not be a book I would ever recommend.

I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing in exchange for my honest review of the book.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Navajo Code Talkers by Doris A. Paul

The Navajo Code Talkers brings up a part of history that is not common to many. The book covers how the Navajo men had been put in a situation that literally could have a serious impact on the outcome of World War II. The Japanese had the ability to break nearly every code the Americans code devise. Some of the Japanese had been education in the US so they would send messages posing as US military personnel hence having the US dropping bombs on their own men. The US need a method to communicate that was safe and fast and the Navajo men had the solution.

The first three quarters of the book covers the history, personal stories and has perfect examples of how it must have been a Navajo Code Talker. The last quarter of the book steps away from the history goes into great detail about who they were honored after the fact which they greatly deserved but I was more interested in the actual history of how they made a difference in the world. It's still a great read and I have recommend it to several people who are also interested in World War II history.

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

Billy Graham’s in Quotes by Franklin Graham and Donna Lee Toney

A little something for everyone.

Billy Graham’s in Quotes written by his son Franklin Graham and Donna Lee Toney cover a variety and diversity of topics. The book is not a long drawn out essays in chapter form beating a topic to death but rather a collection of quotations from Graham’s sermons, personal notes and conversations with others. There is no need to read the book from cover to cover. If you are interested in a certain topic go directly to that section and read through the quotations, you will be amazed as to how many quotations you can actually take away some form of inspiration or how it relates to your life.

While this is not a traditional book, it is organized in chapters based on general topics to make it easier to find what you are looking for. The book should be one that is kept in your personal library as a reference book. The book does not back away from controversial topics but instead brings out Billy Graham’s theology and personal philosophy of life in each quotation.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through BookSneeze.com in exchange for my honest review of the book.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

If you are an avid coin collector, “Strike it Rich with Pocket Change” will be perfect to expand you knowledge around coin collection. Many of the examples are not any different t from the other coin collecting books I have seen. If you have no background in coin collecting and think, you are going to find enough flawed coin in your pocket to collect big bucks, you are wasting your time. Searching to find that specific flaws in a coin take patience, determination and a great deal of time plus you have to understand the number of coins struck makes a major difference regarding the estimated value of the coin.

The book covers in detail the key points of locating flaws during the striking of a coin. If you are a beginner coin collector, this book will be invaluable to determine the key items you need to look for and the coins that had a limited volume. For everyone else that only has a general understanding of coin collecting you will find the pictures interesting to look at but the topic is a very dry read.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through BookSneeze.com in exchange for my honest review of the book.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

You Were Born for This by Bruce Wilkinson

Just one man’s interpretation of God.

As I began to read “You Were Born for This” my interested peaked quickly. The stories and examples were heart wrenching and captivating. Though I do not agree with the author’s definition of miracles, I do agree on the overall premise of the book. In Boy Scouts they called it doing a good deed, another book calls is random acts of kindness and the dictionary defines the same thing as altruism or being a humanitarian. No matter the size or scale of the act, being empathic and altruistic is becoming more and more rare in today’s world. The book provides good methods to seek out and find these types of situations, how you handle them is yet to be determined.

The book has one major flaw. I always struggle with a book that the author is convinced they know and understand God. At first I dismissed the author’s comments but they kept came up time and time again as if they knew exactly what God is thinking and wanting us to do. The most that any of us can do is assume, theorize and pray for understanding of God. The book should state this is the author’s understanding and/or interpretation of how he believes God is thinking and acting, we as humans can do no more than that. Even Jesus Christ did not fully understand God at times how could we. Over all the book was a good read and delivers a strong message that everyone should try to do and understand better.

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

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Seraph Seal by Leonard Sweet & Lori Wagner

Apocalyptic tale that is realistic and frightening.

The year is 2048 technology has continued to advance and religion has become obsolete. The world has started on a change in many ways because of major natural and human designed disasters. A collision course is under way when all the modern details as we see them slowly turn into Revelation's as it is referenced in the Bible.

Many doomsday stories have been published but “The Seraph Seal” was written in such a way that people today could relate to and visualize the possibilities. Sweet and Wagner have taken each potential and possible realistic detail into place and spun the time ahead by 37 year to foresee how we may end up. Historical data is used along with current events and events based on how we live and act today that could unfold.

Truthfully, this is not a book topic I search out to read but I was surprises and intrigued enough that I was not able to put the book down. The characters were will developed and how the authors handled the multiple locations around the world and events along with how they tied into each other was masterful. A book that will make many people think hard about not only their future but also the world’s future, as we know it.

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

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Average Joe by Troy Meeder

The overall purpose of the book Average Joe is to ensure men that being average, ordinary or normal should not make us feel our lives have no purpose or that God has missed us in his grand plan. In God's eyes we are not failures by living a steady faithful life.

Meeder's overall theme is interesting but the point is lost and at time missed. Several of his stories may hit home for some but many will not be able to relate. If you are a church going guy this book will make sense but if you are looking to better understand your undefined relationship with God and/or Jesus, you may struggle with this book. The stories are intended for men who already have a basic religious background.

Yes, most of us will agree being the Average Joe is ok but the what Meeder’s is trying to teach is altruism, giving of ourselves for the good of others, is the true teaching of Jesus and all men should strive to do their best in giving of themselves to other. The book’s message about altruism is there but you may have to look close to understand how it may relate to your own life.

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

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Jolt! by Phil Cooke

I have read and reviewed literally hundreds of self-help books. Most have similar common themes, as does Phil Cooke’s JOLT!. Going through the phases of being able to accept yourself for who you are and looking inside to determine what your gift or passion is. The book discusses going over goals, how to prioritize personal events and how you operate at work. Many books go into the moral purpose of the individual along with their true faith, as does Cooke.

If you have not read many self-help books then you may enjoy this book. The book has the basic foundation that most self-help books have. If you are looking for something different or a unique point of view in tackling some of the key self-help topics you will be disappointed. JOLT! provides nothing unique or new to the field of self-help. The book provides many stories and quotes but nothing solid that the reader could walk away with saying, “that could really change/improve my life”. The book contains many good suggestions but they are suggestions that appear in most published self-help books.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through BookSneeze.com in exchange for my honest review of the book.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Put Your Dreams to the Test - John C. Maxwell

Have you ever had a dream that you wanted to fulfill but somehow never seemed to get around to it or you pursued your dream and failed? Well this book will help dreamers and attempted dreamers. Maxwell has done an excellent job going through the difference or having a true dream and one that is just a fantasy. Maxwell covers 10 key questions that one should ask when seriously pursuing a dream. He covers critical areas like ownership, clarity, reality, passion, strategy, involving others, cost, tenacity and significance.

How do I know this book works? Prior to reading this book my dream was to start a non-profit organization. I have done that and it has been running successfully for years. When I read the book, it described exactly the procedures, steps, trials and failures I went through. What Maxwell has written is true and accurate. If you have a dreams and do not have a handle on how to get there or what the next steps are this is a must read.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through BookSneeze.com in exchange for my honest review of the book.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Beyond Talent

I have read many of Maxwell’s books. As I started to read the paperback "Beyond Talent" I quickly discovered it was the same book as the hardback "Talent is Never Enough", that I already read. I was disappointed that I had already read the book under a different title but the contents and the lessons within the covers of either title are important to read.

Maxwell enters in to a subject that most would not venture. How some people with tremendous talent start-off strong but in many cases fail quickly. Why does a person with as much or less talent continues with their success? Maxwell first addresses understanding and acknowledging your own beliefs. To be confident to proceed in your own talent but do not stop there. Continue to work on and enhance those talents. You may be lucky enough to succeed on your talent at first but longevity of your success relies on your ability to go beyond your talent and explore and push yourself further. Maxwell continues how to proceed with or without talents, some basic things we all need to look into further for our own definition of success: your passion, how to initiate activities, focus, being prepared, practice (failure is not always bad), perseverance, courage (to stand up for yourself and others), the willingness to learn and to teach, character, relationships and teamwork.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through Booksneeze.com in exchange for my honest review of the book.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Life Without Limits - Nick Vujicic

Some whine on and on about life that it is just not fair. Nick Vujicic you would think that he would fall into this pattern having no arms or legs but when you read his book, you will be inspired how a young man never accepted the excuse that he could not do something. No matter what the goal, task or challenge he kept trying. In some cases, it took him many times to accomplish what he wanted but the end goal was to keep a positive upbeat attitude and drive forward no matter what.

His book discusses what we perceive as limitations, accepting who we are, the importance of attitude and not accepting what others tell you cannot do. Nick do into details about the story of his physical disabilities and the emotions he endured to survive emotionally as a child, a teen and now as a young man. He shares how his faith was the foundation of how he pursues an active, fulfilling and faith based life. It was not necessary for him to have arms or legs to be a productive member of society. He had the gift of speaking. Through his inspirational book and personal speeches he is able to reach out developing trust with others, provide practical advice for a life of fulfillment, building stronger conne3ctions within our relationships and the understanding none of us are perfect but everyone has a gift you just need to look within to find out what yours is.